Mentor: A person with more experience and knowledge who shares their wisdom with a person with less experience and knowledge.
Research has shown that mentored relationships can encourage professional and personal success. Regardless of your age, gender, socioeconomic status, or professional interests, seeking and receiving effective guidance and advice from a mentor can encourage faster development and increase professional competitiveness. Yes, mentorships require time and effort but the outcome can often be more effective than most training or preparation programs.
For example, the University of Nevada hosts a college preparation program called Dean’s Future Scholars which uses a relational approach to mentor students into college. Since its foundation in 2000, DFS has established a homegrown, sustainable educational model resulting in a 90% high school graduation rate for first generation, low-income high school students. This is significant especially because Nevada’s high school graduation rate is only 54%.
The program traditionally recruits students during their sixth grade year and mentors them through high school and college. DFS college student mentors meet with their high school students every week to review grades, establish goals, fulfill high school graduation requirements, and plan for college opportunities.
DFS also hosts a six-week summer program at the University of Nevada to provide high school math credit courses, improve high school grade-point averages, and introduces students to college life while building sustainable academic networking skills. Free tutoring, examination preparation, internship opportunities, student job opportunities, and an array of student resources such as computers, printers, and a writing stations are available through the program. This long-term commitment allows first-generation, low-income students a greater chance for graduating from high school and entering college.
Dean’s Future Scholars, Big Brothers Big Sisters, National Mentoring Month, and Mentor are just some ways to enhance your personal and professional development. Ask a respected professional within your industry who has more knowledge and/or experience than you do, to be your mentor today. Just make sure that you are committed to work hard, listen to, and consider following your mentor’s suggestions. Having a trusted ally in your corner whose goal is for you to succeed is an effective strategy to improve your professional competitiveness.