Water Cooler Lessons: Mentoring Matters

Mentoring Matters

Learning the ropes as a college freshman, Ryan discovered one sure thing – having a mentor could make all the difference.

“I had just started school when my finance professor sat me down and showed me the resumes of seniors. He told me that by the time I was a senior, my resume should look like theirs.”

Their resumes were filled with related internship and work experience the seniors had acquired during their four years. The lesson Ryan took away was that that how he spent his summers could determine his future job prospects.

“He told me, ‘Everyone has good grades. It will be your leadership and work experience that will set you apart after graduation.’

So, over the next four years Ryan served in student government and landed three internships – one with a technology firm, another with a hospital system, and the third, a two-year stint with a management consulting office located on campus.

A few months before graduation, Ryan applied for a college new-hire position with a global company. The competition was tough with 750 other applicants. When the search was narrowed down, and the round of interviews completed, he found himself as the number one pick for the job. The company wanted a college graduate with relevant experience and, because Ryan listened to his professor’s advice, he was hired.

On the job, he continues to seek mentorship.

“I look for people who have received promotions and are well respected across the organization. They can help introduce you to others, provide you with insight into the company culture, and show you how things really get done.

A mentor, he said, can see the bigger picture and show you options for advancement that you might not be able to see on your own.

“In talking with a manager, I discovered that I might like to work in store operations, but didn’t know how to get from here to there. I was encouraged to build a broad base of successful experiences. He told me that having several different roles will keep me just out of my comfort zone, allowing me to constantly learn and grow.”

Now, Ryan seeks to be a mentor to the new college hires. He knows where they’ve been and he knows how far they can go – if they just have someone who is willing to show them the way.

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