By: Maria Evangelou
As a college student, it’s easy to feel like you were thrown into the pre-professional, independent college world with hardly an idea of what to even major in yet. We are told to look for internships, join student organizations, make connections, network—it can all seem overwhelming, and many students don’t even know where to begin. With so much new information and confusion, one of the best things you can do is seek mentorship, and luckily, it’s all around us.
Confidence in Questioning
Don’t be afraid to ask questions!! So many of us come into college with a multitude of questions, and sometimes it takes a lot to build up the courage, swallow your pride, and just ask someone for help. In college, we are torn in the awkward in-between stage of feeling like an adult and also being a baby in the professional world. The first step is understanding that you will get nowhere without asking questions. Asking professors, upperclassman, and involved classmates is a good way to ease into meeting some potential mentors. In most cases, these people are more than willing to help and offer advice, and they may even be flattered that you chose to ask them.
Internships and Opportunities
The best part of being a part of such a large, thriving, and diverse University is the resources around us. Professors and advisors are our built-in, required resources—but they should be used to their full advantage. Professors offer office hours that they highly encourage students attend, and the one-on-one time is a safe space for any questions outside of just the material in class, and learning about your professor as an individual as well. Many professors will offer advice on how to acquire internships, and can even provide some contacts to help kick-start your search!
I know everyone says it, but get involved. Student organizations in college are plentiful nowadays and offer so many incredible resources including community service hours, internship and scholarship opportunities, and pave a pathway for a future career. Through student organizations, upperclassmen, especially those who hold executive positions and are experienced, will become your best friends in mentorship. These students have been in your position as recently as a year before, and will share some tips and tricks, as well as their downfalls along the way. Often, you’ll learn more from your fellow students than anyone else, because they’re relatable, and will take you under their wing.
Everyone Knows Everyone
Another benefit of mentorship is using the things your mentors have taught you to your advantage in interviews with future employers. The world of PR is a small one—more often than not, an employer will recognize the name of a professor or mentor you bring up to them who has helped you along the way. This creates a common ground, relatable factor, and a sense of respect from the employer that you’ve reached out and connected with so many people. If you really build strong connections, your group of ties will grow faster than you can imagine, and all the resources you need will be at your fingertips.