Friday, February 27, 2009

Mentors Make a Difference

According to studies of American executives, there's a direct correlation between having mentors and finding job satisfaction, professional growth and salary. Support and advice from mentors often help students and young employees to become more focused, gain confidence and learn to trust their decisions. Students can help students. And there are specialized kinds of mentoring -- graduate students, for instance, require an individualized approach. It benefits college students of any age to reach out to the community and mentor young people. It seems that a key ingredient in successful mentoring is a difference in experience between those who pass along what they know and those who absorb it.

Mentoring didn't exist, or it wasn't widely promoted, when I was a student, although the concept has been around for a LONG time -- the word itself was inspired by the character of Mentor in Homer's Odyssey -- and I've come to see that my peers and I missed out on a lot. Just thinking about it brings up that if-I-only-had-it-to-do-over feeling. So if you have a shot at being mentored or becoming a mentor, don't miss out.

There's an invaluable networking aspect, too – the connections that mentors and mentees form often evolve into opportunities that otherwise would've been unlikely, if not impossible. Most successful professional engineers can attribute their achievements to their mentoring relationships – in school or on the job.

Whether you're being mentored or doing the mentoring, you'll find that it'll be an extremely satisfying and productive.