The Importance of Mentoring for Career Development
Everyone should have a mentor throughout all life stages, but especially as a student and recent graduate. In college, I quickly realized I gained a lot of knowledge and facts from textbooks, but wisdom was something I could only gain through experiences.
When we make decisions, sometimes we reflect days or years later, and realize there could have been a wiser move. This can be exemplified in the phrase, “Hindsight is 20/20.” Often, when we make decisions independently, we are only using what we know. When we take other opinions into consideration, we can make more informed decisions with these new perspectives in mind. This is why having a mentor is so critically important for success throughout one’s career track.
Considering the facts above it is therefore essential that young graduates and college students have access to Mentors and Coaches during an Internship Abroad. The same principles applies to local internships. There is so much confusion about best practices in cracking the job market. But due to information overload, graduates are overwhelmed and this often results in anxiety. Fret not, the simple solution is to find a Career Coach that can serve as a mentor.
What is a Mentor?
I define a mentor as a companion who has wisdom, knowledge, and experiences and voluntarily offers their time to improve the life of the recipient. I use the word companion as this person should be someone you feel comfortable opening up to and someone you hope to cultivate a long-term relationship with. A mentor is someone who teaches you something new and provides advice that they hope will genuinely propel you in a positive direction.
The Mentor is: The Coach, The Connector, The Challenger, and the Cheerleader during and after your internship
Throughout your career transitions, it’s important to have the 4 C’s: coach, connector, challenger, and cheerleader. One person may not fit all of these roles, and it’s definitely okay to have more than one mentor as everyone has different strengths. Here are the different types of roles mentors can play and the different type of people who fill this role for me.
In my professional career, my coach was my former boss. She was a single mother who climbed up the career ladder and I respected the way she commanded trust and built positive relationships with everyone throughout the company. I knew I could learn a lot from her so I set up monthly check-ins go over any of my struggles or specific problems I needed help addressing. When I left the company, we remained in touch and have been friends throughout the years. When I was contemplating making another career move, I asked her for advice on how to best go about the situation as she has seen a lot of hiring and firing over the years. Her expertise was invaluable and I turn to her as a trusted advisor for all of my professional development needs.
For me, the connector is another boss of mine who happens to be a recruiter. In general, recruiters are great connectors as they are master networkers. But this doesn’t have to always be the case. Another connector I know and use as a mentor is my selfless cousin. Connectors are people who enjoy ‘matching’ others in their network. Every time I talk to my boss or my cousin, they are always saying something like, “You should really meet so and so, I think the two of you will really hit it off as you’re both into professional development.” Connectors are critical to hold on to because they are really interested in seeing you succeed and are willing to help you out.
In order to grow, you need someone who tries to pull you away from the status quo. The challenger often prompts questions to ask what you have been up to, why you haven’t reached your goals, what happened to that new years resolution? While they may come off as critical, they are coming from a good place as sometimes the most difficult things to hear come from your biggest allies. A stranger isn’t going to tell you your life is in disorder. A challenging mentor and confidant will. To me, this is one of my best friends, who isn’t afraid to tell me when I need a reality check.
Life is a rollercoaster. No doubt you will eventually hit some low points and feel stuck. The cheerleader is the mentor who can help you look at the big picture and strike motivation while infusing optimism. Sometimes all you need is to hear words of encouragement or someone to treat you out to an ice cream on a depressing day. These people genuinely want to see you succeed and be happy. They may or may not provide advice, but they always provide a sounding board for you to vent your frustrations to. In my life, I have multiple cheerleaders and they are all people I can unleash my unfiltered opinions to and receive equally honest feedback.
Who are Your Mentors?
Take a look at each C and ask yourself who is that person in your life right now? If no one fills that box, you may want to start looking at people you admire inside and outside of your network. While many colleges offer mentorship programs, you can also find mentors through building relationships with people you meet overtime. What do you admire them for? Let them know this and start to check in with one another regularly. You may not have established it formally, but a lot of mentor relationships develop organically. I encourage you to find and build these relationships as life will continue to pose new challenges!
“Those that have mentors, can make more confident decisions surrounding their career. Throughout the multiple interviews and resignations you will encounter over the years, having someone to affirm what you believe is the right steps will not only boost your confidence but will give you peace of mind.”
About China Internship Placements Mentor Program
China Internship Placements understands the importance of mentoring and has a program available to all interns. The customized 1:1 private coaching packages cover topics such as LinkedIn profile review, job search strategies, networking techniques, building an online presence, refining resumes, interview preparation, and salary negotiations. With a private mentor and coach, interns feel confident in their job search process and career choices upon graduating from the program. CIP also provides exit briefings to all interns to ensure that you understand the process and feel more confident with your career progression.
About Emily Liou
Emily Liou is a dedicated career coach for China Internship Placement. She is the founder of CultiVitae, a career blog offering 1:1 career coaching, e-courses, and resume services to millennials seeking career transitions. As a former recruiter and human resources professional, Emily has the inside scoop of what companies are looking. Her passion is in the area of professional development and believes everyone has the ability to cultivate their lives. She enjoys traveling to different continents each year and has a slight obsession with coffee.