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Career Development Center University of Illinois Springfield

Mentoring

In academic settings many students have become accustomed to having mentors available to them. Not only are there mentors in the academic setting, but they are also in the career world. Career mentoring is an extremely beneficial and powerful tool that is sometimes overlooked. Many universities, employers, or organizations offer a formal mentoring program. Check with yours to see if such a program is available to you or if there is a possibility of establishing one.

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Finding and Choosing a Mentor

Many times, finding a mentor must be taken into your own hands. A problem often arises when a person is too proud and does not pursue a mentor for help. Not only are you benefiting from your mentor, but the mentor is also gaining a great deal from you. Rather than falling behind or not advancing by avoiding the process of finding a mentor on your own, realize how simple it is to go about choosing your own!

Qualities to Look for In Your Mentor:

  • Someone you admire and look up to, as well as respect
  • Trustworthiness and capable in maintaining confidence in the relationship
  • Sense of humor and good listening skills
  • Comfortable in providing feedback and discussing a range of issues
  • A drive to learn from others throughout life and gain knowledge from you as well
  • An upbeat personality and wants you to benefit from this experience

Your mentor can be a person in the workplace or an outside individual from an organization in the same functional area. Depending on what you prefer, your mentor can be someone who is older, more experienced, and at a higher level or an individual on the same level, such as a peer mentor. If you do not have a person in mind, ask for referrals. Tap into friend and family networks to try and expand yours. Be clear in what you are looking for in order to save everyone’s time. Look towards local businesses, professional networks, and online communities.

When in search for your mentor, there are certain qualities that you may want to avoid. It is wise to steer clear of people who are in a state of extreme anxiety or helplessness. Many people also believe that a mentor should never be your supervisor, because it is likely that a conflict of interest would arise due to the fact that it is imperative that you are able to openly discuss your career and what is occurring in the workplace with this individual. It is also common for a minority to choose a mentor who is also a minority in order to first handedly identify with the success of someone who has done well and succeeded in a diverse taskforce.

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Establishing Contact with your Mentor

Whether you have known your possible mentor for years or are in the process of communicating with them for the first time, it is important to remain professional. Don’t be afraid to search the internet for organizations leading you to find a person who is in a career that you may enjoy. It is okay to send people an e-mail asking them about their career paths, which may lead to further conversation about mentoring! If an individual declines your request to serve as a mentor, do not be discouraged. Realize that they probably have responsibilities that will affect their role as a mentor. Simply, thank them for their time and continue your pursuit for a mentor!

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Serving as a Mentor

When you serve as a mentor, you share knowledge and abilities with others while also gaining awareness and understanding from others. It is very beneficial to have a mentee as well as a mentor that is open, honest, and has realistic expectations; also, one must be able to admit mistakes and share their failures in order to have an open and successful relationship.

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Tools for Mentoring

  • See Networking for techniques and tools to assist you in finding a mentor or mentee

Hands On Resource

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Additional Resources

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