You have a friend in me: the importance of mentors

Quote about mentoring on image of girl staring into distance

By Vanessa Salman ’17

In any group setting, whether it be your sorority, work, or an internship, there is always going to be someone there with more experience, more exposure, and knowledge than you. I can’t stress enough how important it is to lean on these people for guidance.

It’s okay to ask questions or for advice. It does not show weakness, but rather an eagerness to learn and grow. Now, it’s one thing to ask questions about every menial task, however you should not be afraid to reach out to someone and seek their input. Before seeking help, come up with a few potential solutions to the issue at hand. If you’re still stuck, fear not, as your mentor is there to lead you to the light at the end of the tunnel.

It is essential to find a mentor-like figure, especially in a professional setting. They have so much experience and knowledge to lend you, despite how new they are in their career. Mentors are able to provide career and academic advice, provide insight into their journey to where they are, and be a sounding board for you to express your future goals and plans.

When you find this person in your place of work or internship, it enriches your experience. Two summers ago, I interned in a prestigious congressional office in Washington, DC. From the start, our Staff Assistant took me under her wing. She helped me navigate through the three House Office Buildings, offered me support, and was always willing to lend me advice. She and I shared similar long-term career goals, which helped us bond more.

I was just a young, bright-eyed, 18 year-old girl in our nation’s capital, which could be overwhelming to some. Not for me, thanks to Jessica’s help. Looking back, I realize her guidance made my two and a half month internship a memorable experience. To this day, I occasionally ask her for advice, we keep in touch, and I visit her every so often in her new office when I’m in town. And to this day, I still look up to her as a mentor, and will continue to do so as I begin to make the leap into the professional world.

A mentor-menteeship doesn’t necessarily have to be a formal relationship, but a relationship nonetheless. They have a wealth of knowledge to share with up-and-coming professionals in their respective fields.

So my slice of advice to you is to be open, be inquisitive, and be you. If you do these things, you will find a mentor in the most natural way.