Experience the power of two: Reasons to get a mentor and be a mentor in college

As a first-year student, taking in everything college has to offer can be such an overwhelming experience. There are a million questions filling your head at once — Is this the right major for me? What clubs should I join? How can I be successful?

While it can feel like a very isolated process figuring out the answers, the best way to learn and grow is to build relationships with people who have been through these same struggles. One of the most beneficial aspects of my college career was mentorship. Starting with my first year through senior year, I consistently moved through the cycle of having a mentor and being a mentor. Both roles are so valuable in gaining perspective and personal growth.

I have been fortunate to have mentors, both formal and informal, that have helped shape my path.

One of the best decisions I made was signing up for the Barrett Mentoring Program, as my mentor was extremely supportive from day one (literally, she checked in with me on move-in day!). I was paired with a junior business student who quickly became one of my inspirations. We developed a strong relationship over the course of two years with a few of the highlights including learning about opportunities such as McCord Scholars, taking silly pictures at Leaders Academy events, and even landing an internship from her referral.

While these are all amazing benefits, the most important product of this mentorship relationship was the friendship that developed.

All of the insight I gained from her would not have been possible if we hadn’t followed through with regular lunch dates or coffee chats even after the program ended. An important lesson for mentees is that you have to take initiative in what you want to get out of the mentor relationship and make sure that you are contributing your time and effort.

While it may seem like mentees receive a ton of benefits, there are perks in being a mentor.

I strive to take on mentor roles because after having such positively influential people help me succeed, I want to give back. My mentor would not have taken the time to help me if there wasn’t a mentor in her life who had done the same. There is also this wonderful feeling of confidence that results from having the knowledge and experience to give someone else qualified advice. While it’s true that the mentee should feel like they are learning, there are so many positive things to be learned from them in return.

An essential lesson for mentors is that while you may want your mentee to be successful, your definition of success might not be the same as your mentee’s. Steven Spielberg articulates this frequent mentoring mishap when he explains “the delicate balance of mentoring someone is not creating them in your own image, but giving them the opportunity to create themselves.” The role of a mentor is to offer guidance and friendship so that your mentee can grow into the person they want to become.

If you are super inspired to go out there and either have a mentor, be a mentor, or even both, W. P. Carey has some phenomenal opportunities.

For W. P. Carey first-year students and transfer students that are looking for a peer-to-peer mentorship program (i.e. student-to-student), they are encouraged to use Connectors to access business student mentors. Connectors mentors are undergraduate business students of all majors as well as MBA graduate students. And if you think mentoring incoming first-year students as an undergraduate or graduate student sounds super fun, definitely check it out. The W. P. Carey School of Business Professional Mentorship Program matches professional mentors exclusively with business student mentees.

Then there's Arizona State University's revamped and expanded online network that drives powerful professional connections within the Sun Devil community. The ASU Mentor Network gives students access to an online and in-person network of diverse mentors. It also offers a variety of opportunities that allow alumni to continue sharing their experience and real-world knowledge with students, ranging from various informal connections to more traditional mentoring relationships.

These are just a few of the many opportunities around the business school and the larger ASU campus. Even without a formal position, you can still be an informal mentor by offering your time to students looking for an opportunity to see what you are all about. For underclassmen, don’t be afraid to reach out to older students because it gives us an opportunity to give back to our community. Overall, mentorship is such a worthwhile experience and inevitably leaves a lasting impact.

By Courtney Robertson (BS Marketing ’17)

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