What Does a Mentor Do, and How Do You Find One?

June 28, 2021
Posted in Student Tips
June 28, 2021 ACS

It’s never too early to begin exploring potential careers. In fact, doing this now can help you narrow down your college major options, and even help you to decide which college to attend. All of these decisions build upon one another, so it’s best to avoid waiting until the last minute. If you’re in high school, consider forming professional relationships with adults in your fields of interest, to gain a clear vision of your future.

One of the best ways to do this is by seeking out a mentor. A mentor is someone who is experienced in a field of interest, who can teach and guide you. This person can assist you in numerous ways, such as…

  • Helping you form professional connections
  • Writing a letter of recommendation or serving as a reference on job applications
  • Giving you feedback on your strengths as well as things you need to improve
  • Identifying opportunities
  • Offering moral support
  • Helping you understand the demands of a particular career and the educational requirements
  • Ultimately, helping you decide if this field is the right course for your future

But a mentor isn’t always easy to find! Identify possible mentors in your life by…

Considering the connections you already have. Perhaps a relative or a friend of your parents works in the field you’re considering.

Talking to your guidance counselor. A large part of your counselor’s job is to help you research options and locate opportunities.

Volunteering. Volunteer for an organization related to your field of interest, so that you can widen your circle of contacts. For example, if you’re considering a career in veterinary science, you might volunteer at a local animal shelter. If you’re considering construction/engineering, give Habitat for Humanity a call.

Get a part-time job. Start applying for jobs in fields that interest you. This is the best way to get hands-on experience and to develop relationships with experienced professionals.

Attend events at colleges you’re considering. Individual departments at universities often host events for current and prospective students. Get on their email list and start attending.

Once you do develop mentor relationships, remember to keep an open mind. Sometimes these experiences help you to decide a field is not right for you, and that’s okay! Now you’ve narrowed your search, and can pursue something else that fits you better.


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