Throughout my career, I’ve mentored people in a multitude of different environments and circumstances, at different stages in their career paths. But one area that has always piqued my interest is university level-students who are just starting out in the world of work, forging their own connections and figuring out what kind of person they want to become.
Mentoring at universities is so important. Younger people often don’t have as much experience or intuition to fall back on, and they can lack foresight to examine how their actions will affect their future. Working with a mentor can really help to give valuable insight into alternative options and strategies at this crucial crossroads in their life.
Through mentoring, I’ve realised that I can make a real difference to the lives of these students, not only by providing accountability, but also by offering support and motivation when they need it most.
Many students, straight out of the small pond that is college and into the much the larger pond of university, can feel overwhelmed and daunted by their workloads. I’ve seen where students have a lack of direction and poor focus that can make their studies feel like a struggle, turning enthusiasm and excitement into doubt, concern and fear. These feelings are then compounded by poor communication skills and lack of self-esteem.
This is where mentoring really pays off. By offering a second opinion, providing honest and constructive feedback, and helping students to improve those crucial communication skills, mentors can help to guide students through this challenging time in their life, as well as offering a sounding board for alternatives and new pathways. A good mentor can also help students to develop and grow, while at the same time keeping them motivated and focused on the job at hand – whatever that may end up being.
It was my passion for mentoring that led me to launch National Mentoring Day, taking place today. Mentors and mentees across the country are being invited to join in the awareness day and to share their experiences of mentoring to celebrate a true force for good in the world of business and education.
As an experienced mentor myself, I have seen at first hand how the right guidance can turn things around for individuals. The relationship and role that a mentor plays has never been as important as it is in today’s challenging times – and that’s especially true at university, when the important decisions made can affect the trajectory of an entire career. Hopefully, National Mentoring Day can draw attention to this important stage in a young professional’s life, and encourage more people to take up the mentoring mantle for themselves.
Chelsey Baker is the founder of National Mentoring Day.