I coordinate a higher education mentoring program connecting current students with graduates in their future profession. This week two program participants shared their initial impressions of the program with me. After just a couple of conversations, the first student is already seeing the benefit of mentoring. He’s more confident in himself, better able to identify his transferrable skills, and feeling more positive about his future after graduation. The student acknowledged influences other than his mentor that have started to make a difference, but recognised that mentoring was an important part of his change in attitude.
Image Source: Stephen D on Flickr Creative Commons
The second student has already established rapport with his mentor. They have identified areas of common interest outside the profession and spent time getting to know each other. This is a mature-age student exploring a career change and he has as much to share with his mentor as the mentor has for him.
Our program, like many others in the sector, is designed to assist students in developing an understanding of their future profession and to establish professional networks. Students work with an industry ‘insider’ to identify skills that will set them apart from every other graduate with the same piece of paper. More broadly, the mentoring relationship is a chance to build the professional confidence students will need to excel after graduation.
It’s rewarding to hear the program is already making a difference for these two students. Of course it should. They’re students, and the transition from study into the workplace can be a challenging one. But what about the rest of us? Is mentoring really necessary?
In short, yes.
Mentors are great at times of change, such as the study-work transition of my students. Whether you choose to move, or a change is forced upon you, it’s extremely unlikely that any of us will remain in our current role for our entire working life. The best time to consider the possibilities that lay ahead is when things seem calm, when work is good.
The only constant in life is change
I can guarantee change will come. Now, while you’re comfortable in your job, while your routine is set, is the perfect time to prepare for change. Perhaps it’ll be a promotion, or a side-step into a new organisation, or a complete shift in career direction. In each case, a mentor can make the difference.
Take a look at the mentoring benefits for my students: understanding the profession, networking, demonstrating added value, confidence in a new field. These apply to all career changes. The right mentor, or mentors, can make all the difference, can help you be prepared for change, whenever it comes along.
The next post in this series will look at identifying suitable mentors and establishing a relationship.