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Friday, April 09, 2010

The “Other” Resume Builder - Mentorship

Many of my fellow students have no doubt spent the early part of this semester trying to find an internship for this summer. Internships are a great way to get “real world” experience as well as meet people in the field you want to work in.

Unfortunately, an internship is seen as the “holy grail” for undergrads in their quest for employment after college. I say this because there are other opportunities besides internships in which undergrads can gain valuable experience in the field they want to work. One of those opportunities is a mentorship. The best part about a mentorship? They aren’t just for undergrads. All professionals should be seeking to learn from those who have more experience than them.

Before I go on, I should probably explain a little bit about what a mentorship is. As I hinted above, it is learning from someone who has more experience from you. But it is also more than that: A mentorship is a relationship. This isn’t just another way to network, a mentor-mentee connection is much deeper than that. Mentors will not only connect you with others in the field, they will guide you and teach you so that you can will be successful in the field.

This all sounds great, right? So why doesn’t everyone have a mentorship?

The problem is, most people don’t know how to set up a mentorship, and if they do start a mentorship, they have no idea what to do once they have them. Here are some tips to make your mentorship a positive experience:
  • When searching for a mentor, find someone you respect. You want to have a relationship with somebody who is in a position that you want to be in someday.
  • Decide what you want out of a mentorship. Before you start searching for a mentor, you should know what skills you want your mentor to help you develop, and what goals you want to accomplish with your mentor.
  • Communicate your goals with your mentor. As I said earlier, mentorships are relationships and communication is key to positive relationships.
  • Don’t feel like you are using your mentor. Your mentor will likely be giving a lot more to the relationship than you are, but that is OK. They wouldn’t be a good mentor if they weren’t sharing their knowledge with you.
Mentorships may not seem as glamorous as an internship to most undergrads, so I hope this helps you look at other ways of gaining “real world” experience. Mentorships can be just as valuable as an internship, plus you get the added bonus of making a deep connection with someone you admire. And if you are still worried about getting that perfect internship; who knows, maybe your mentorship can turn into an internship. I’ve seen it done before.

Sam Scott
University of Minnesota
Jour 3279
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