Many of you have heard about mentoring. The messages sound something like, “You should be a mentee,” or “Find a mentor so to learn about the insides of an industry and network with other professionals.” There are even websites devoted to mentoring like The Mentor Network and state specific sites like Indiana Mentoring Partnership. But what really is mentoring?
The Mentoring Relationship
Mentoring is a relationship between two people. One person is usually more experienced (mentor) than the other (mentee), and there is an exchange of knowledge and assistance. The exchange is very important! You may not think the mentee would have anything to offer the mentor, but if the relationship isn’t a 2-way street then it will quickly become nonexistent.
As you begin any type of networking relationship, especially mentoring, find out more about the other person and what he/she needs.
You may have some resources, ideas, or connections that others do not, which could prove to be very helpful. Keep an open mind and always listen for an opportunity to help the other person!
Benefits & Strategies
Of course there are numerous benefits and strategies to being in a mentoring relationship, as stated in this online resource. The article discusses how students involved in a mentoring relationship can stand out and show leadership potential. It continues that because students become involved in a mentor relationship, it demonstrates their initiative to take control of their career goals and aspirations instead of sitting idly by and waiting for something to come their way. It also discusses the benefits of being a mentor. Even mentees should read this portion, because it gives you a glimpse into how to make the relationship a beneficial one for both parties.
Although this online resource specifically highlights a program within The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, many other professional associations and even college programs have mentoring opportunities. Check out ones related to your major or career goals, but if you can’t find a structured program then consider taking the initiative to develop a mentoring relationship on your own.
Karen is a Career Counselor and Internship Coordinator at Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne (IPFW). At IPFW she assists students in finding internships, coordinates and assists with campus-wide events, teaches a Career Planning course, and meets with students individually to assist them with all aspects of career development. You can connect with Karen through Twitter, LinkedIn, or IPFW’s Blog.