What it means to be a mentor, mentee to another person
Coming into college, students may lack direction or identity. Through time, experiences and relationships, students can eventually become more prepared for the world after college, both professionally and personally. However, having a figure to look up to and follow in their successful route also aids students in finding their personal direction and confidence in their intended track.
Many students turn to mentors for guidance. Especially as underclassmen, students can look to their older peers or workplace supervisors for inspiration on how to push through the difficulties of college and the working world.
Disha Bahl, a fourth-year genetics and genomics major, had the opportunity to be mentored by several distinguished individuals working in her intended career path. She noted that her biggest takeaway from her mentors is having the guidance to excel through college.
“No one in my family has been to college and this is my first time navigating,” Bahl said. “Having someone there to reassure you and reassure you of your qualities is very helpful; it’s hard to do it alone.”
Bahl said that each of her mentors have been crucial in teaching her different skills and helping her grow in various aspects. She met each of her mentors at different points in her life, working for different companies in various industries. After developing relationships with her respective superiors, Bahl began to look to each of them as mentors, as they took an interest in her outside of the workplace and began advising her on her personal and professional life.
“[My first mentor] helped hype me up and made me believe in myself,” Bahl said. “[My second mentor] was also really encouraging and wanted to talk about my career and my future. My last mentor was actually here at Davis, and has been helping me study for the MCAT and applying for med school.”
Students can also find mentors in older peers who have traversed their way through difficult classes, roommate struggles, job applications and other hardships that young college students may have yet to experience and work through.
Candice Liou, a second-year communication major, found a mentor through a campus club and notes having a streamlined professional college experience by having this knowledgeable figure there for her. Several clubs on campus have facilitated mentor-mentee programs where they pair students up to establish this relationship. Students have the opportunity to be paired with a mentor to help guide them through their college hardships, a and this was something Liou took advantage of.
“As a fifth-year, [my mentor] gives really good advice,” Liou said. “She has a lot of experience and her own struggles; she has made her own mistakes that she advises me to avoid.”
Liou specifically relies on her mentor for help with applications and interviews for potential jobs or club-related leadership positions. Having an older mentor gives Liou the opportunity to get tailored help and answers from someone who has gone through similar experiences in years prior.
“[My mentor] told me that for interviews, I should make sure I’m super attentive,” Liou said. “She also advises me to try out for different clubs [that I don’t know about] such as Consult your Community because she knows that I’m interested in consulting.”
Liou also noted that having an older mentor who has gone through various ups and downs provided her with a mature figure to help her learn how to handle difficulties she may face as well. Liou was able to gain a more mature perspective about things such as rejection and failure from her mentor.
“[Without my mentor] I would probably have a really different mindset on rejection and my professional life overall,” Liou said. “I learned that rejection is just a part of life and not something you should necessarily beat yourself up about. Rejection serves a purpose and that is to steer you in a different direction or make you improve as a person.”
Eventually, students have the opportunity to pay it forward and become mentor figures to others. Bahl, ready to pass on her experiences to younger individuals, now sees herself as a mentor to younger students.
“I have a lot of experiences I feel like I could transfer to other people to benefit them,” Bahl said. “I recently got a little in Davis Women in Business and I feel like I’ve been a pretty solid mentor for her so far.”
Bahl said that after going through difficulties of working through internships and hardships of life, she finds herself at a place where she can be a successful mentor to a young and maybe naive individual.
“I navigated the ups and downs, and I’m at a point where I’m more comfortable in my professional career and personal life,” Bahl said. “I feel like I’ve learned a lot and can give that back to other people. A lot of people come up to me and ask me for advice; if people are coming to me for advice, I feel like I must be doing something right.”
Leslie Leon, a third-year human development major, became a mentor due to her interest in providing help to other people.
“I really like to help and influence people to get ahead, whether that’s personally or academically or just in any way that may help them,” Leon said. “I feel that all the experience that I’ve had, whether professionally or personally, I can use to help give people advice and seek people out to help.”
Though acting as a mentor generally means providing help and growth to another individual, Leon finds that she has grown and learn from being a mentor to others as well.
“[After being a mentor], I’m able to understand that everyone has gone through different experiences,” Leon said. “Just because someone doesn’t agree with you or follow the advice you give them, it’s not because they’re wrong and you’re right or you’re wrong and they’re right, but everyone has a different life experience that shapes their perspectives on the world.”
For students hoping to one day become a mentor to others, current mentors note that it’s an experience that comes only when an individual may be in the right time and place.
“If you’re not confident with yourself or you don’t feel like you have a solid grasp on yourself then there’s no point in being a mentor,” Bahl said. “You should do it only if you’re at a point in your life you feel like you can benefit someone else.”
Leon stressed the importance that a mentor role can play in the life of a younger individual, and that entering into such a role shouldn’t be taken lightly.
“Only become a mentor if you have that will and that drive inside of you to help others, to fully commit to mentoring someone,” Leon said. “Your mentee is looking up to you for any type of help, whether professionally or academically or personally; as a mentor, you’re that foundation to the beginning of their growth.”
Written by: Alyssa Hada — firstname.lastname@example.org