What is a mentor, and why is it important?
A mentor is someone who is can share their career experiences and insights with you. Mentors are usually people who are farther along in their career paths, and can help guide you in workplace dynamics, industry nuances, or your job/graduate school search.
Mentorship is often an informal relationship. You might ask to grab coffee with your potential mentor so that you can get their advice. Or, you could let them know that you are looking into their field, and that you’re curious to hear how they got to their current position.
Finding a mentor can be helpful for a few different reasons. First and foremost, you’ll benefit from their wisdom and expertise. They have been through this process already, and can help you find new opportunities and avoid potential pitfalls. They can also serve as a great networking contact, and may be able to introduce you to other people in your industry.
Who can serve as a mentor? Where can I find one?
Anyone can serve as a mentor. Professional associations, conferences, and networking events are great ways to meet new people and then plant a seed for a follow-up conversation. Or, you might also think about further developing a relationship with your current supervisor, a professor, or a staff person at UVM. Other good ways to find mentors are reaching out to alumni on LinkedIn, or getting connected to a UVM alum through the winter job shadowing program. The most important thing is that you trust your mentor’s opinion, and that you can speak openly about your goals, challenges, and questions.
How do I start?
The first step is to put yourself out there. Attend events, post on LinkedIn, and let your contacts know that you’re hoping to learn from industry experts and want to have a dialog. It can be hard to begin these conversations, but practicing will make it easier over time. And remember, we’re here to help you out: you can always stop by the Career + Experience Hub for strategies in finding a mentor, or to practice these networking conversations.