This month our guest blog is Christine Kinnear, CEO of With Insight Education. She explains the benefits of finding and keeping the right mentor, and how they can be the key to how you can excel in your chosen field.
Barack Obama had one. So did Mark Zuckerberg. Oprah Winfrey’s has had loads. What am I talking about? Mentors.
Education is a transformative experience, one that shapes our future. However, this journey can often be daunting and filled with challenges, especially for sixth form and university students who are on the cusp of adulthood and entering a new phase of life. That's where mentoring comes in as a powerful tool to guide, support and empower you to achieve better educational and career outcomes.
Building Confidence Through Mentorship
One of the most significant benefits of having a mentor is the boost in confidence that it provides. Starting university or navigating the complex choices in sixth form can be intimidating causing many students to struggle with self-doubt. A mentor, someone who has walked a similar path and succeeded, can instil confidence in their mentee.
Mentors offer reassurance, share their own experiences, and provide a safe space for students like you to express your concerns and questions. We find that students learn that it's okay to make mistakes and that setbacks are part of the journey. A valuable life lesson not just for academic success but also for personal growth and development.
Expanding Knowledge and Perspective
A key advantage of having a mentor is the insight that they provide into their chosen field, offering a practical understanding that can't be found in textbooks.
This expanded knowledge goes hand-in-hand with academic learning as you can apply what you learn from your mentor to your coursework and projects. It will also help you to make informed decisions about your career path, giving you a competitive edge in the job market.
Tips for Finding the Right Mentor
Now that you understand the importance of mentoring, how can you find the right one? Here are some tips to help you get started:
Identify Your Goals: Before seeking a mentor, it's essential to know what you want to achieve. Are you looking for academic guidance, career advice, or personal development? Having clear goals will help you find a mentor who aligns with your objectives.
Undergrads, tap Into University Resources: Many universities have mentorship programmes in place. Explore these options to connect with experienced mentors within your academic institution.
Network: Attend seminars, workshops, and networking events related to your field of interest. You might come across potential mentors in such settings. Don't hesitate to reach out and express your interest in their guidance.
Online Platforms: Use social media networks like LinkedIn to connect with professionals in your desired industry.
Seek Recommendations: Ask teachers, professors, advisors, and peers for mentorship recommendations. They may know of individuals who would be a great fit for your needs.
Compatibility: When you find a potential mentor, consider their background, values, and communication style. A successful mentorship depends on a strong personal connection, so make sure that you feel comfortable with your chosen mentor.
Commitment: Understand that mentorship is a two-way street. Be committed to the relationship and respect your mentor's time and expertise. Regular communication and willingness to learn are key.
Join an established programme: Our Elevate Career Mentoring programme runs for seven weeks throughout the year with mentors from companies such as the Bank of England. There are lots of other charities and organisations offering mentoring programmes so have a search for the best fit for you.
Put simply, being mentored is an effective way to enhance your educational and career outcomes. It boosts confidence, expands knowledge, and provides valuable real-world insights. Finding the right mentor may take time, but the benefits it brings to your personal and professional growth are immeasurable. As one of our Elevate mentees, Imani, told us, “Having someone listen to where you want to go and support you, to have them say, “I’ll see you when you’re there in a few years,” makes all the difference.“
Christine Kinnear is the Award winning Founder & CEO of With Insight Education, passionate about improving the prospects for black-heritage students. Follow With Insight Education on Instagram to find out when the next Elevate career mentoring programme goes live - @withinsightedu
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