Mentoring Relationships

We hear a lot these days about seeking out a mentor or the value in having one, but what does this mean for you?

Why is now a good time to get a mentor?

  • If you have the time, why not start now?
  • Now that many companies and industries are completing their work remotely, they are already in the habit of making or maintaining connections from a distance.  They will be more familiar with these virtual platforms and ideally have easier capability of becoming a mentor:
      • Many conferences, networking events, or other industry gatherings have been moved online to access throughout the summer. Consider looking into these opportunities to meet a potential mentor!
  • We are all going through this together:
      • The current environment we are in has changed things for all of us! Employers are likely to be understanding of your need/request for guidance and feedback.

What does a mentoring relationship look like?

  • Learn specifics of a position, company, industry, and more:
      • Establishing routine check-ins with a mentor may be helpful to stay on top of trends in the industry, how they are adapting to certain situations, etc.
      • It can all start with an informational interview where you put together specific questions regarding the professional’s job, their work environment, how they got to that role, information specific to the company or industry they work in, and so on. Reach out to a Career Coach if you need advice!
  • Gain perspective on the ins and outs of company projects, experiences with events at that company, or collaborative involvements and meetings:
      • Ask about what group dynamics may be like when working in the team.
      • Learn to collaborate with professionals on different teams or those from different areas of industry.
      • They may have virtual staff meetings you could attend or you may even ask to get connected with another member of their team to learn more about what others do and the scope of their work – this is a great tactic for career exploration!
  • Learn about the “best practices” for resumes, cover letters, or job search strategies for their industry. Perhaps they can provide unknown insights and you can always run their feedback by the Career and Advising Center as well!
  • Receive realistic, honest, and applicable feedback, suggestions, or criticisms to best prepare you for a future career:
      • In order to receive this feedback, you must be open to it and/or willing to seek it out.
      • Tell them about your background or see if they can review your resume and give advice.

Benefits to having a mentor:

  • Establish a network in your industry:
      • While the mentor would be an obvious connection, could they possibly connect you with others in the industry or other connections they may have?
  • Connection to future company you may work for:
      • The “hidden job market” certainly exists in today’s fast-paced world. Many jobs may not even be posted on major job boards or hiring sites, but rather they are filled by referral or word-of-mouth suggestions.
      • Filling positions by referral is quicker and certainly less expensive for the employer. Put yourself out there as a good, qualified, professional future candidate.
  • Skill and experience building and awareness of what you have or have yet to develop:
      • Seek to be involved in projects, meetings, etc. to build skills or shadow real life experiences.
      • Check out the list of the top transferable skills and as your mentor about how they are used.
  • Make the most of this time to develop professionally!

Seeking a mentor:

  • Utilize the “Alumni Tool” on LinkedIn to find NDSU alumni who graduated with the same degree or academic interests/background as you do:
      • Are they in a line of work or type of industry that you could learn from?
      • Look at their work/education history and research this individual a bit before reaching out.
  • Ask about connections that your family member or friends may have.
  • Could you reach out to a previous/current supervisor or colleague?
      • Have you worked with someone you admire?
      • Is there anyone in your past that you have respected for the work that they do or how they get their work done?
  • Reach out to the companies that may have cancelled an internship you were offered or rescinded a full-time offer:
      • With the current environment, employers are likely upset about having to cancel the internships or having to retract job offers. Ask if there is someone who may be available to mentor you, just in a different capacity than before.
  • Ask the Career and Advising Center:
      • We have connections with thousands of employers in our region and the country.  Reach out to us to learn about these employers and how we can help!
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