Mentors and Mentees: A healthy relationship that drives decision making

Apr 24, 2015


Adrian Thompson

Adrian Thompson is a communications intern for the Research and Innovation Network where she is an associate editor for the network's blog. She is currently working towards earning her BA in Journalism and Mass Communications with a concentration in English at the University of Iowa. While attending school, Adrian has been apart of of several student organizations including Ed on Campus, ICONIC Magazine, and Her Campus Iowa, where she is currently the editor-in-chief.

Whether we know it or not, each one of us has had a mentor at some point in our lives. This may be someone close like a parent or older sibling, or someone you only see every so often, such as a coach or a boss. These people have been there to guide us as we make life-altering decisions like which college to attend, which major to choose, or even something more simple like choosing which suit to wear to an interview. As May soon approaches, many of those life-altering decisions are coming along with the warmer days and sunny skies; decisions that millions of excited and nervous high school and college graduates will be making regarding their futures.

As a soon-to-be college graduate myself, questions are coming at me from all angles; from relatives, advisors, co-workers, friends, bosses...the list goes on. What are you going to do when you graduate? Do you have a job yet? Are you moving? Are you going to graduate school in the fall? I thought college was the hard part, but now I feel as if the hardest part is yet to come and it’ll be in the form of making key life choices.

Sometimes the world and the workplace can be a confusing and daunting thing to face on your own, especially if you are just starting out with a post-grad life like myself. It can help, then, to have someone guide you along the way and answer any questions you may have; someone like a mentor. Throughout educational and professional fields, a mentor can help individuals develop and advance their skills and knowledge in their school work or careers. The value that comes from a mentor and mentee relationship for both parties can be all the difference in one or both individuals’ futures.

To find a mentor, one shouldn’t have to look too far. Who is someone you look up to as a professional? Perhaps someone that inspires you, someone who educates you, or someone who trains and coaches you? Because a relationship has already been established with those people, the bridge to forming a more professional mentor/mentee relationship isn’t as challenging or awkward as it may be with a stranger.

If you can’t find someone close to home, try attending a networking conference. For example, Iowa Women Lead Change (IWLC) hosted its 2015 IWLC Eastern Iowa Conference, a two-day event full of inspirational speakers, leadership lessons and networking opportunities that focus on mentor/mentee relationships for both the students and professionals that attend. When at a networking event like this, make sure that your mentor or mentee is working in the same professional area as you or that you desire to go in. That way you can ensure progressive growth in an area that you can further your future career goals in.

As I get ready to head into my post-graduate, I made the realization that mentor/mentee relationships have equal benefits for both parties. I’m at the age where I can mentor young women who are just entering higher education and give them advice about key college decisions. This reminds me to keep up my own good business skills like checking in regularly with my boss and updating my personal resume as often as needed. Mentees not only get great advice, but can sometimes get connections they wouldn’t have been able to make before or even possible internships or jobs. With collaboration and participation from both parties, mentor and mentee relationships can take both individuals to new levels of success in all many aspects of life.