Soft Skills

Find Your Mentors

Mentors are those who offer advice or give insight into your career field. The key is a relationship, which means you need to reach out and ask questions, but also share information about yourself.

Get to know all instructors in your department or area of interest. Go to all of your current instructors’ office hours at least three times per semester to check in on your progress in the course and ask them questions. Let them get to know your strengths and weaknesses, so they can help you improve. Be intentional about learning and growing. Be teachable. The more open to learning, the more you will gain.

One of the best kept secrets of finding a mentor is an “informational interview.” An informational interview is when you interview an expert in your chosen field. Most professionals are eager to share about their career and offer advice.

Approach the meeting like a real interview. Come early, dress professionally, and prepare questions. Act as if a job is on the line. You never know if this person might offer you a position someday. Speak with confidence about yourself and your attributes.

Complete background research on the position and the company before the meeting. Prepare a list of interview questions such as:

  1. Tell me about your education, where did you attend college?
  2. Is there anything you would do differently in your education?
  3. What experience is needed to pursue this career? How can I gain the necessary experience to be competitive?
  4. What are your responsibilities for this role? What is a typical work day like?
  5. What do you see as upcoming trends in this field?
  6. What is your most favorite and least favorite thing about working in this field?
  7. Ask what type of work hours, benefits, take home work, vacation days, and any other specifics to that field about day-to-day expectations.

Send thank you notes and follow up letters. This process is one of risk taking and stepping outside your comfort zone. However, it could lead to a job.