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Career Mentors in College: Who Are They and Why Are They Important?

Once you start pursuing more career-building opportunities, you may wonder if you should find a career mentor. Here’s why it’s an important part of the process.

Students often get so caught up in the excitement of living on campus, making friends, pursuing a major, and living the college life in general that they forget about all the career-forging opportunities colleges offer. You have a unique chance to learn from mentors in your fields of interest, and you should be taking advantage of it. You may feel more motivated to make professional connections by understanding the many benefits you stand to gain from entering a mentorship. Here's what you should know.

What is a career mentor?

A career mentor is someone currently working in your desired profession who can help you learn more about it. After building a relationship with this mentor, they’ll help you find your niche and set long-term career goals to make your postgraduate job more fulfilling. You’ll likely keep in touch with your mentor after graduation as well; a recent survey found that graduates who continued consulting their mentors after starting their careers were twice as likely to feel engaged at work and motivated from the support of their mentor.

Related: The Importance of Career Prep: How to Plan for Your Dream Job

The benefits of having a career mentor

The idea of meeting with someone more experienced in the field than you can be intimidating. It’s even more nerve-wracking to admit you don’t know as much as you’d like to about your future career. Take a deep breath and focus on the many positive aspects of connecting with a mentor. After finding someone who’s the right fit for your personality and learning style, you’ll experience fantastic benefits and better define your professional future.

Gain job experience

Research shows that employers want experienced applicants who know how to solve problems in real time. You’ll be able to communicate and work more effectively than other applicants if you’ve spent time in your field under the guidance of a mentor. In addition to being a competitive applicant, the hands-on experience will help you understand if you’ve chosen the right career path or need to switch majors.

Related: Experiential Learning: The Key to Great Post-College Jobs

Get personalized advice

Anyone can look up information about a job online. You’ll find open positions with posts that describe the role’s responsibilities, but there’s nothing like getting in-depth details from someone currently working your dream job. You’ll be able to ask your mentor questions about their strengths and weaknesses and what they would’ve done differently at your age. Your career will develop much easier through the lens of their wisdom.

You’ll receive unbiased opinions

Your family members and friends want the best for you, but their advice can sometimes be biased. They may want you to live closer to home or tell you something inaccurate because they would rather you work a different job. Your career mentor will approach your conversations from the perspective of a boss or coworker to give you the best shot at a successful career and honest opinions about your goals.

How to find a career mentor

There are a few ways to find a career mentor in college. First, start applying for jobs, internships, or volunteer opportunities related to your careers of interest. You’ll meet people in that field and can find a mentor organically. You can also reach out to your school’s career center to ask if they have a list of people who want to volunteer their time. Students seeking mentors can also attend networking events on campus to form lasting relationships with leaders who work in your potential field.

Related: How to Start Networking: Top Tips and Tricks

Finding a career mentor in college is important because they make it easier for you to shape your future. You’ll learn real-time information about your desired career path, how much money you might make, which skills are most important to future employers, and what professional opportunities are available to you. Think about connecting with mentors as you start applying for jobs or internships. You’ll have the chance to ask whatever questions you like and feel more confident about your future.

Haven’t even began to think about life after college? Why not start right now with these 4 Great Ways to Start Thinking About Your Future Career? 

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About Carolina Jacobs

Carolina Jacobs is a Managing Editor at Classrooms.com.


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