Mentorship is an often neglected part of the college experience.  A good mentor will open doors for you later on and give you guidance on the next four years of your life.  Some students are lucky to happen upon a mentor, but others need to consciously search for one. This is particularly the case at large universities which don’t dedicate significant resources to connecting students with faculty.  Your mentor could be a professor, an administrator, or an academic advisor. You want someone who shares both your academic interests and with whom you have developed a personal rapport.


During my time in college, I participated in a pair of mentorship programs.  The first was a peer-mentorship program wherein I was both a mentor and mentee.  One of the students I worked with was interested in journalism and I was able to guide her to job in the opinion section of our school’s newspaper.  Ironically, she would eventually surpass me and became my boss. Finding other students can give you firsthand information about what programs are really worth your time and energy and which are a wash.


The second was a program which connected students with faculty to discuss issues in world politics.  I ended up becoming very close with my professor and mentorship group. He eventually invited us to participate in his research which was incredibly intellectually rewarding.  When I began the post-graduation job search, he offered to connect me with some of his colleagues across the country who were also looking for research assistants. Despite having graduated from college, we still keep up and get coffee from time to time.  Frankly, I don’t know where I would be without both his intellectual expertise and his personal attention to my growth


Be on the lookout for programs such as those at your university, but you don’t need to rely upon them.  If you find a professor who you particularly like, go to their office hours and discuss the material with them.  This is also a way to ensure your academic success in a class. Don’t be sycophantic; really try to create a meaningful relationship with your professor.  Similarly, check-in with your academic advisors a few times a semester. They’ll assist you in plotting out your class schedule for semesters to come and can be a valuable source of internship opportunities.


College is a trying time for everyone and having a support system goes a long way towards ensuring success for every student.  Learning to forge meaningful connections now will let you network effectively later in life. The mentorship relationships give you a friend for life who can be your north star as you enter the workforce.  Sometimes the best parts of college aren’t advertised, mentorship is one of those.