Mentors are extremely important in any career, whether you are a college student in an internship, or a full time employee launching your career. Did you know that even company executives have job mentors? They sometimes pay the big bucks for their outside mentors, who are really consultants, but they have them nonetheless. You should have one too, and you should have one for free! Who should be your mentor? There are a couple approaches to finding a mentor, and feel free to use them both and have multiple mentors.
The first is a technical mentor, someone who is close to your position and can advise you directly on how to improve your task-related skills (i.e. how you do a certain analysis, what trade magazines you should be reading, what are effective day-to-day work methods). This person should be someone who is doing exceedingly well at their job, do not seek out a mentor who is consistently a low-performer! The second kind of mentor should be a career mentor, who should not be one of your direct line-managers, and probably should not even be in your work group or organization. This person should be used for advising in the more strategic decisions you make in your career (e.g.
how do I position myself to get a certain job). He or she should be in a position you eventually want to have (or he/she could have had that position along their career). They should be knowledgeable enough to tell you what longer term things you should be getting involved with in order to get the experience you will need to acquire that next position you want. Finally, they should have a good networking rolodex that they are willing to open up to you when appropriate (For example, if you are interested in position xyz, and they know someone who manages that position, they can set up a meeting for you with that person to discuss your interest in it!).
This second mentor can be very helpful during your internships so that you can get into position for getting a full time job with that company after you graduate (In that case, the proper person to be your mentor is actually your supervisor, because you really don't have much time to recruit an independent mentor and have enough of their buy-in for them to do anything on your behalf). How do you "recruit" a mentor? Some companies have methods already laid out, which makes it easier. Otherwise, you have to do it on your own. Networking again plays a big part in whom you hear about and who you meet. Start with your manager - discuss your longer term career goals, and let them know that you want to have an independent mentor or advisor to provide you guidance along your way.
Ask them if they know anyone who would fit with your career goals and would be willing to mentor you. Most of the time, your manager will be happy to even set up the introduction for you. If your manager can't or won't help, start asking around to some coworkers you would trust, and they can probably do the same for you.
Next, get that meeting set up, and let them know that you want their ongoing advice and counsel during your career. Let them know of your career aspirations, and specifically where you see them possibly helping you. You will also want to ask them probing questions about their past experience (to make sure they have the experience to mentor you, and also to make sure the conversation is not focused on what you want from them!).
If that person isn't a good fit for any reason, or it isn't working out during the process, let them know (And explain why!). Their feelings won't be hurt, it's no skin off their back, and it will save both of you the time and effort. Just repeat the process to find someone more appropriate to mentor you!.
This article was written by Bob Halgren, an expert in educating college students on how to find internships and full time jobs. For more information and articles, please visit Http://www.College-Career-Builder.com