I heard this great quote at the November 2010 Midwest Association of Colleges & Employers Trends in Recruiting Conference. It describes why mentoring is so important. An unfortunate trend, expressed by employers, is that students often lack professional demeanor, maturity, and communication skills. Mentoring helps students reach beyond the classroom to develop real-world experience—with a guide and champion always present.
In a recent Forbes Magazine article, Personal Branding expert Dan Schawbel gave five essential steps for today’s career success. Third on the list was “Be Networking 24/7” and the benefits of having a mentor. That being said, he reported, only 32% of professionals have a mentor.
I’m sure you’ve heard this career advice before, too. What’s holding you back—the unknown? Here’s a chance to meet a real-life college mentor, up close and personal, from the comfort of your own laptop.
Hello, my name is Amy, and I’m a mentor. Here’s my story . . .
In August of 2008 I was invited to join the new Women of Excellence Mentoring Program with Xavier University, in Cincinnati. Me, become a mentor? I was between careers and wondered what I had to offer. Career Services reassured me that they had resources to help me along. So, a few encouraging emails later, I signed on and selected my mentee – a sophomore Communications major.
From Competent to Confident
After a brief online exchange, we met for an introductory dinner. I think I was just as nervous as she was. Where to begin?
- We spent time getting to know each other; she heard about my career and I learned about her family, her major, her activities and career goals
- We agreed on our monthly communication format (via email)
- We set short-term goals—begin building a résumé, continue getting good grades and leadership experience, and research internships
We agreed to have dinner in the spring for review and we were on our way—she to work on her résumé, and I to learn about:
- Career development and the economy
- Professional development and networking
- New social media skills, via LinkedIn and Twitter
My goal was to help her go from “competent to confident” –building her academic and professional skills, along with her confidence and poise—which she did. Funny thing was, I did, too. I became more competent in mentoring and more confident in my abilities. Sure, we had our awkward moments—but we always kept communication timely, sincere and focused.
Over the years my mentee and I have attended networking events, professional development dinners, and have given a presentation at a women’s business summit (on the importance of mentoring, of course!) I’ve proofread résumés and cover letters. She has bounced ideas and questions off of me, and I’ve found leads and contacts for her.
I’m learning, too
Along with the pride of reconnecting with my alma mater, I have the joy of partnering in a young adult’s success. I am learning that the workforce of today is different from when I attended college YEARS ago. Yet, the generations still have much in common on life’s rich journey.
Meet a Mentor . . .
It’s your turn now to meet a mentor. Visit your campus Career Services to see if they have an alumni mentoring program. Meet with your boss or supervisor at work to share your goal of being a mentee, or network at a local business event. Visit a professor during office hours for career guidance.
It’s always a good time to have a champion in your corner.
About the Author: Amy Ruberg, Ruberg Advisory Services, LLC. Thanks to her participation in Xavier’s Mentoring program, Amy has discovered her new joy and career—as a College & Career Consultant in the Greater Cincinnati area. She and her mentee were honored as the 2010 Xavier Mentor and Mentee of the Year. Go Musketeers!