The professional world is changing, and the field of education is rapidly changing to accommodate it. Universities are adding more degree fields and courses in order to help prepare students for the ever-changing job force. Universities are now beginning to implement mentorship programs to give students a strong professional foundation.
In a report by Purdue and Gallup called “Great Jobs, Great Lives”, results showed that graduates who “felt supported” during college were almost three times as likely to thrive than those who didn’t feel supported. The report defined “feeling supported” as feeling that professors cared and made them excited about learning, as well as having a mentor. Universities are able to monitor that professors care and that they make students excited about learning, but mentorship is fostered outside of the classroom setting.
A mentorship is a relationship between a student and a professional. The student, or mentee, gains knowledge while the mentor gets the opportunity to give some of his or her knowledge to a person who will appreciate it. Mentorship is important to college students’ development because it helps them to form realistic expectations for their careers. Mentorship is important to mentors as well. It gives them an opportunity to teach and speak about themselves. Most people like to talk about themselves.
Alumni enjoy the idea of being mentors. A university alumni association was interviewed, and they stated that they were able to get more than 9,000 alumni to be mentors. It is students who are less willing to seek out the relationship. In that same alumni association, which over 9,000 alumni offered to be mentors, only 100 mentor/mentee connections were facilitated in over a 5 year period.
Another thing to remember is that just because a student is matched with a mentor with a similar career path to the student’s desired path, this does not necessarily mean the relationship will be successful. To guarantee a good match, there is much more that needs to be taken into consideration.
When a student enters this relationship as a mentee, it is important for the student to remember not to treat the mentorship like a job interview. If students believe there is an incentive, they are not able to be their true, authentic selves. If this occurs, the relationship is not able to thrive. This phenomenon was shown through the results of a study conducted in a university’s business school. In a 360 degree assessment, students ranked themselves and their peers on a set of soft skills. This included listening skills, leadership skills, and communication skills. The students ranked their peers lower on the skills when they were told that the report was just for feedback purposes. When the students were told that their reports of their peers, as well as their peers’ reports of them, would affect their grades, they ranked their peers much higher on the skills.
There are a few aspects that are necessary for an effective university mentorship program. One crucial condition is that the mentors are kept engaged. Another is that the students are involved in the process of getting mentors. The students need to understand how to build those relationships so that they can create and build more mentorships in the future. Another key aspect of any successful mentorship program is a system that is in place to fully understand the students and the mentors, and to connect them based on the latest research from mentorship experts. Another crucial aspect of the mentorship is that students are given resources to reach them how to behave in a mentorship. These resources should, in particular, teach students that a mentorship is not a job interview and that they should be their genuine selves when speaking with their mentors.
The concept of mentorship has already taken the professional world by storm, and now it has begun to enter university settings as well. Mentorship programs in colleges will allow students to learn from mentors, and will lead them toward successful and passionate careers.