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Mentorship for All! Why Students and Alums Should Have a Mentor

Typically, we think of mentors as the network of professionals we turn to when we’re launching a new business or career, or when we’re looking to achieve a personal growth goal. Which is very appropriate. In the spirit of National Mentoring Month, it’s important to acknowledge mentorship can begin much earlier in life. Organizations like MENTOR and Big Brothers Big Sisters, for example, leverage the power of mentorship to provide the social-emotional needs of their mentees. Just think, without early mentorship, even informally, would your favorite athlete or performer have achieved their dreams?

Mentors play a crucial role for many Laurel Springs students and alumni, helping guide them to their fullest potential. 

First Things First: What is a Mentor?

A mentor is a person who has experience in an area of interest and is willing to offer their advice and expertise to someone looking to achieve goals in the same area. “Mentor” can be an added title for someone already in a student’s life, like a teacher, parent, coach, older sibling, or tutor. Mentors help students grow in their academic, athletic, personal, and social lives. This could mean helping with time management, working through homework, navigating college admissions, or applying the accountability needed to reach personal goals or thresholds.

Mentorship at Any Age

Any student of any age can benefit from a mentor. While high school students stress about navigating social situations, weeding through colleges, drafting admissions essays, and hunting down scholarships, their mentors can share valuable insight into how they chose their post-secondary education option and what important things to consider when looking for a postsecondary trajectory.

And, for students in elementary and middle school, mentors can act as guides through difficult-to-understand social situations. Younger students are still developing their social and emotional identities. Encounters with peers or others can be intimidating, and mentors can guide students in making happy, healthy choices while nurturing friendships with their classmates and others.

As you begin exploring your post-LSS path you’re going to want former LSS students in your network. Odds are, they’re out there in the world doing amazing things—just like you! And, other LSS alumni want you in their networks, too. Exclusively for Laurel Springs alumni, LSS Alumni Connect provides a platform to identify other LSS alums who know exactly what it’s like to be a student—and a graduate—at Laurel Springs. Alumni Connect is both our network of trusted professionals and a platform for webinars and events helping young professionals to hone certain skills. LSS alumni have the exclusive opportunity to connect, engage with, and offer mentorship to other alumni on the platform. 

Getting the Most Out of a Mentor-Mentee Relationship

A mentor wants to connect with you and help you reach your goals, so it’s important you share those goals, whether they’re focused on academics, your future career, athletics, or other pursuits. When considering a mentor, look for one whose achievements are similar to what you are aspiring to. A civil engineer, for example, may not have had experiences similar to those of a pro tennis player. 

Be curious. This is by far the most important advice you need to follow to get the most out of your mentor. Ask thought-provoking questions—and even some silly ones! Appropriately explore the possibilities of things that challenge or scare you, and learn as much as you can.

Trust is the building block for any mentor-mentee relationship. Let your guard down, knowing your mentor has your best interest at heart. They are here to help you. It is important that you be 100 percent honest with them. And, perhaps more importantly, that you’re 100 percent receptive to feedback, even if you don’t love what they’re telling you. 

Respect your mentor’s time. Always be punctual and stay within the agreed time for your sessions.

You and your mentor should come up with clear goals and set some ground rules, establishing the direction you want to take and the prospective outcome of your time together.

Your mentor’s goal is to help you make the most of your experiences. You may work with them for a few months or a few years, so make sure it is someone you enjoy talking to. Update them frequently on your progress and goals.

What About Informal Mentors?

Remember, mentorship may be part of the job description of many people around you. Your teachers, parents, counselors, and coaches want to see you succeed. While they may not formally call themselves your mentor, watch closely for nuggets of wisdom from these people—they know what they’re talking about!

Through an informal mentorship, you may be offered friendship, support, knowledge, wisdom, and insight from someone who has had more experience in what you’re looking to achieve. Informal mentors likely don’t set specific goals, meeting times, processes, or benchmarks. You may only chat once a week or daily, over the phone, for 10 minutes here and there. Informal mentorship is a loosely-structured connection that varies based on your needs.

So, can you remember your first mentor? Mentorship has such a positive impact on students who seek these relationships.