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Importance Of Mentors: Reasons To Be One Or Get One

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There’s probably been countless moments in your life where you’ve leaned on someone you trust for advice or assistance. Whether the person you turn to is a professor, friend, family member, athletic coach or other, the importance of mentors is undeniable. These people can help to guide, direct, and shape your present situation and future opportunities for the better.

 

 

Mentor helping a mentee at their computer
Photo by NEXT Academy on Unsplash

 

 

What Is A Mentor?

Mentor is defined in the dictionary as “an experienced and trusted adviser.”

 

A mentor is someone with which you can develop a long-term relationship that is centered around building the mentee’s growth and development. A mentor does not work on a day-to-day basis to help a mentee make decisions, but they are there to serve as someone who can offer support, wisdom, and teaching over time.

 

A mentor should not be confused with a coach. A coach is someone who focuses on specific strengths and weaknesses. The relationship of a coach and their athlete or client also tends to be finite, while a mentor/mentee relationship tends to be long-term and less structured.

 

 

The Role Of A Mentor

When it comes to education, students who have mentors can benefit greatly. This is because mentors can help them to navigate the undergraduate and graduate educational journey by imparting wisdom and advice.

 

Mentors serve as a sounding board for their mentees. Additionally, mentors can play a large role in helping upcoming or recent graduates to land a good position within the workforce. They can connect mentees with people in their network that can open the door to new possibilities for their mentees.

 

 

The Importance Of A Mentor

There are so many reasons why it is beneficial to have a mentor and to be a mentor. The relationship paves way for a two-way street of upsides.

 

Let’s take a look at some of the best pros of both having a mentor and being a mentor.

 

 

7 Benefits Of Having A Mentor

1. Provide Knowledge

 

Mentors share their knowledge and experience with you so that you can learn from their experience. You can then apply these lessons to your life as a student and in personal and professional settings.

 

 

2. Help You Improve

 

It’s often easier for someone outside of yourself to notice where you need improvement. A mentor gets to know your strengths and weaknesses over time and can play a critical role in helping you become the best version of yourself.

 

 

3. Broaden Professional Network

 

Mentors tend to be well-connected and well-liked, that’s why they choose to give back as a mentor! They can introduce you to their professional network and help to set you up for success in your career endeavors.

 

 

4. Provide Encouragement

 

Mentors are not only around to point out flaws or give advice. They also serve as a support system to provide you with encouragement to take risks and believe in yourself.

 

 

5. Help Advise

 

When you need to ask someone’s opinion on a big decision, you can turn to your trusted mentor for advice. While some mentors prefer to guide you to your own answers, others may be straightforward with their advice. Either way, they can help you make decisions.

 

 

6. Can Learn From Their Experience

 

Making mistakes in school or business is inevitable. However, you can learn lessons from your mentor’s past experiences and stories so that you can avoid making big errors in your own life.

 

 

7 . Costless (Moneywise)

 

The relationship between a mentor and a mentee doesn’t cost money. They are a priceless asset, literally and figuratively!

 

 

7 Benefits Of Being A Mentor

1. Improve Communication Skills

 

As a mentor, you work on your verbal and written communication skills by working with your mentee and having conversations.

 

 

2. Reinforce Your Own Knowledge

 

Since you get to share your own knowledge and experiences, it can help to reinforce what you know. It may also open the door for new learning.

 

 

3. Enhance Your CV

 

Depending on your career or situation, being a mentor can help to boost your CV. For example, if you are a senior student at a college who takes on a freshman mentee, this could be added to your resume when you apply to a job. It helps to demonstrate leadership skills!

 

 

4. Broaden Network

 

As a mentor, you can broaden your own network by connecting with other mentors and leadership professionals.

 

 

5. Gain Recognition

 

This is often not the primary goal of mentors, when you are a good mentor and your mentee succeeds, part of the success is owed to you. In this way, you may gain recognition and praise for the work you put in.

 

 

6. Sense Of Fulfillment And Growth

 

Ultimately, the highest sense of recognition you may feel is that you give yourself. The sense of fulfillment and personal growth can be astounding when a mentor looks back at their relationship with their mentee(s).

 

 

7. Improved Leadership Skills

 

Importantly, when you are a mentor, you are a leader. This dynamic relationship will surely help to improve your leadership skills over time.

 

 

Types Of Mentors

Different people have different types of mentorship styles. Let’s take a look at the various types of mentors you may come across or become:

  1. The Experienced Leader: In a professional setting, this is someone with high status and seniority who has made their way up the ranks. They have gained enough personal experience and knowledge to impart it to those who are up-and-coming stars. They can form a mentorship relationship with their apprentices or through a formal mentorship program in the workplace.
  2. The Coach: The coach may be a mentor that the HR department has brought in or a consultant. Often, this type of life coach is employed by those who may be making a career change or have personal goals that they need help to achieve.
  3. The Educator: Teachers often become mentors who work with their current or prior students. They may become a mentor informally by helping to guide students during office hours or it could be a sanctioned relationship by the administration.
  4. The Self-Help Type: People can also find mentorships in written words or lectures. This may come in the form of self-help books, manuals, articles, websites, and more that offer advice on how to learn and grow.
  5. The Inner Mentor: In some cases, you could be your own mentor. When you listen to your own gut and intuition, it could bring to light the answers you’re looking for. This could come from leaning on your past experiences or identifying the reasons why your situations are the way they are.
  6. The Trusted Listener: Some mentors are great listeners. With their active listening techniques, they make sure you feel heard and may be a sounding board for your own ideas.
  7. The Peer Provider: Within school settings or organizations, you may befriend a peer who turns into a mentor. This could involve the benefit of sharing networking contacts and offering support for one another.

 

Two people meeting over cups of coffee
Photo by Joshua Ness on Unsplash

 

 

Goals Of A Mentoring Relationship

Every mentor and mentee relationship helps to achieve a variety of outcomes. Some of the common goals of a mentoring relationship include:

  • An understanding of confidentiality
  • An agreement for honesty
  • An experience of listening and learning
  • A commitment to a working partnership
  • An opportunity to lead by example
  • An open-mind for flexibility

 

How To Find/Become A Mentor

Want a mentor of your own? That’s a great first thought, but where can you even find this type of relationship?

 

Perhaps your school offers a mentorship program, like we do at University of the People. If not, consider leveraging these alternative ways to connect and build a mentoring relationship:

  • Connect on social media (i.e., LinkedIn)
  • Enroll in a professional network
  • Attend school clubs
  • Talk to HR
  • Hire a consultant

 

Mentors Matter

Mentors can become your go-to person for advice and support during hard times. They are also around to celebrate your wins, regardless if they are big or small. For students and professionals alike, it pays to both be a mentor and have a mentor to help navigate life’s ups and downs.