How Mentors Can Help Grads Get Their Dream Job

This article was written by Lisa Adams, founder of Fresh Air Careers, on behalf of the Happy Grad Project. I was speaking with one of my nephews, Matthew, a few weeks back. He is two years out of college and gainfully employed at UCF. Actually, it is one of his dream jobs, marketing within the athletics department. I asked him what was the one piece of advice he received, prior to graduation, that helped him make a successful shift to life after college. He actually gave me three sound pieces of advice: 1) Be persistent, 2) Stay open to opportunities, and 3) Seek wise counsel from trusted advisors and mentors. Related: 5 Things My Mentors Taught Me To his credit, he did all three. Matthew stayed persistent in his pursuit of his targeted role: sports marketing. It took time, but he did land a part-time role at UCF, which then changed to full-time after a few months of proving himself to the organization. He kept his mind open to opportunities that came along. For awhile, he was working three jobs to get the experience he wanted in the various areas of expertise. All three gave him solid contacts, which helped in his landing at UCF. He then told me about the 3rd and most important piece of advice: Get more good advice through wise mentors. Matthew surrounded himself, and still does, with mentors who provide sound counsel. I felt compelled to share this advice with you since it is rare to find a college student or recent graduate fostering this kind of relationship. Yet, the rewards of these relationships can be tremendous.

Why Are Mentors Important

Have you ever tried walking a path without any daylight or a flashlight? It can be scary, and you’ll probably walk slower and more cautiously, right? Well, walking the path of the post-college world can feel the same way - scary and uncertain. Pull in those trusted advisors and mentors to help guide you along the path. By reaching out to other professionals who have been where he wanted to go, Matthew discovered he could gather knowledge and advice. The knowledge he gathered helped him to make informed decisions and risks. Mentors can give you a perspective that you cannot gather on your own. Having gone ahead in various areas of life, they can help you along the path when it’s dark out.

How To Find Mentors

Do you know adults who have spoken wisdom to you previously? That you trust? That have your best interests in mind? Consider asking them to formally mentor you in their area of expertise. Consider mentors for various areas of your life: health, career, financial, spiritual, and so on. You choose the areas most important to you at the time. Keep your eyes open to meeting new advisors through professors, career services department, friends of family members, or even family of friends. I found one of my early mentors through a college friend. Her dad was a VP of Human Resources, my field of choice. I asked her to introduce us. She did, and I followed up with a meeting to ask his advice regarding a career in human resources. The time I spent with him in those early years was invaluable. His advice guided the early part of my HR career. Asking an advisor to mentor you can be exciting and nerve-wracking at the same time. The key is to ask. Simply stating why you appreciate them in their field of expertise and how you would like to be mentored by them is enough. Trust me, no one will be offended by your request. If anything, they will be honored you asked.

How To Build A Relationship

Now that you have begun to invest in the search for advisors, it’s time to build up this relationship. It’s good to meet with your advisor to discuss the logistics how, where, and when you would like to meet. Will this be a formal (structured) relationship or casual (less structured) relationship? Be aware that you bring the agenda and the goals for this relationship, not the advisor. They are there to be objective, guide, provide resources, and answer your questions. Yes, it will be a conversation when you meet, so don’t assume it will be one-sided, but the core of the relationship needs to be driven by you. Even many years removed from being a post-grad, I have various advisors I lean on - career/business, spiritual, and even a friend that is helping me with developing better nutritional habits. Each have helped me become more self-aware, stretched, encouraged, supported, and accountable. My life would be drastically different today without them. Find your trusted advisors. It’ll change your life and your career.

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