If you are getting your bachelors degree, we have one huge piece of advice: get yourself a mentor.

From college campuses to boardrooms, everybody talks about mentors. Ask someone successful what their secret is and they will likely mention that they had great mentors to help them along the way. When you’re in your undergraduate degree program, you reach out to professors and visiting professionals for advice. You are essentially soliciting them to be a mentor to you.

But it’s not like this is a new thing. I mean, like networking (which is just a fancy new word for getting to know your neighbor), mentoring is as old as human civilization. From the first time a shepherd on the highlands of Mesopotamia showed his sons how to herd animals for food, mentoring was happening. In fact, mentoring might be the single oldest work training known to man. It continues around dinner tables, in classrooms, and company break rooms to this very day. For this reason, mentoring seems to come very naturally. We naturally seek it out, and we want to give it to others.

That’s why it only makes sense that college students should seek out mentors to help them navigate the high-stakes decisions of their college and early career years. What courses should you take to best prepare you for your chosen career? Should you move straight into a career after graduation or would it better serve you to move into a graduate degree program? These are questions a well-chosen mentor would be able to help you answer.


How can a mentor help you? To help our readers understand the benefits of using mentors as they enter a degree program and then move past graduation into their career of choice, we’ve created this list of five ways a mentor can help you:

1. Mentors make great sounding boards.

Sometimes the voices of your friends and family, as well as that little voice in your own head, can become one big jumble, until you really don’t know what you want to do anymore. At moments of crucial decisions, this can be absolutely paralyzing. This is exactly when you need to have a talk with your mentor.

Over lunch or a quick phone call, you can air your thoughts and reasons and all the choices that lay before. A good mentor won’t tell you what to do, but they will give you the insight you need to make the right decision yourself.

2. Mentors can see ahead.


One great thing about mentors is that they can often see your future. This isn’t because they’re fortune tellers (unless you’re going into that field). It’s because they know enough about the world you’re heading into that they can predict what will happen if you make certain decisions.

Are you thinking of leaving your job to earn an MBA but you’re not sure? A good mentor will be able to help you see the outcomes of staying in your job versus enrolling in an MBA. Thinking of opting for two-year nursing program instead of a four-year BSN program? An experienced RN will be able to tell you the pros and cons of either choice.

3. Mentors have been where you are.

Good mentors aren’t mind-readers, but they do know how you feel. How? Because they were once in your shoes. Like you, they were once college students standing on the cusp of their careers, trying to make the same difficult decisions you’re likely facing, wrestling with the same concerns.

In this regard, they can very much empathize with what you’re going through. But they also have the benefit of experience to put your current struggles in perspective.

4. Good mentors have networks.

There’s that word ‘networking’ again. One of the great side benefits of having a good mentor is that your mentor can also introduce you to their network. This, in effect, gives you a jumpstart in growing your own professional network beyond your dad, your uncle, your roommate, classmates, and the people you work with in the campus cafeteria. Instead, your mentor can introduce you to managers, directors, and executives, all of whom might be, or have influence over, hiring managers.

And trust us: you want to have influence over hiring managers once graduation rolls around.

5. Mentors aren’t emotionally compromised.

mentor career collegeDon’t get us wrong. Parents and other family members can be great resources when you’re trying to make those difficult decisions regarding education and career. But too often, they are too entangled emotionally in your decisions to give sound, objective advice. Sometimes they can be so bossy about it that you don’t want to even tell them what you’re struggling with. Sometimes they don’t really understand your situation but they dish out opinions as if they did. Not so with mentors.

Unless your mentor is your parent or best friend, mentors are especially awesome because they offer advice and guidance without tripping over their emotions. For example, if you told your parents you were thinking of switching majors in the middle of your junior year, they might flip out as the fear of their child dropping out and blowing their investment took over their judgment. A mentor, on the other hand, would talk you through the decision and the arguments for one of the other—and they would do this without losing their cool.

This makes it a lot easier to make logic-driven decisions, instead of making choices out of fear of letting your loved ones down. Those smart decisions are the kind that you can live with.

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