What Is the Purpose of a Mentorship?

Tracey M. Lauterborn, Colangelo College of Business, Full-Time Faculty

Mentor and mentee working together on laptop

As recent graduates enter their career fields, they consider a variety of resources to advance their careers. Many people join professional organizations or pursue further education. However, mentorships are an option often overlooked.

Forbes recently published an article with the results of a study on mentorships: “76% of people think mentors are important, however, only 37% of people currently have one.”* These numbers reflect quite a disparity. Is it so challenging to secure a mentor? Are employees unable to recognize the mentors to whom they have access?

Many recent graduates do not understand the purpose of mentorship. Clarifying this objective and the appropriate expectations may open the door to more effective use of this resource. This leads us to the following questions:

Why Should I Work With a Mentor?

Mentors are valuable sources of information. A mentor can teach you about your organization and your industry or guide you and prevent you from making professional mistakes. A mentor is someone you can share ideas with and turn to for advice. Throughout a mentorship, you progress professionally and learn to avoid common pitfalls.

How Do You Recognize a Mentor?

The Forbes article lists some interesting finding of the mentorship study: “Only 14% of mentor relationships started by asking someone to be their mentor. 61% of those relationships developed naturally.”* Most people expect a mentor to be someone who was directly assigned to take care of them. There are many formal mentorship programs. However, most mentoring relationships evolve organically.

A mentor might simply be a co-worker who frequently praises your work in the presence of your boss. A mentor might also be a supervisor who invites you to a meeting. A mentor could also be a stranger who provides professional insight.

It is important to understand what mentoring means so you can recognize mentors when they appear and embrace the opportunity. Attend professional events to increase your chances of finding a mentor. Engage everyone you meet. Look for value in every interaction.

What Should You Expect From a Mentor?

You should expect to learn from a mentor. A mentor may be someone who offers advice or who presents you with opportunities to join career-advancing teams. Be respectful of your mentor’s commitments. You should not expect the mentor to have weekly lunches with you, directly promote you or find you a job. A mentor’s value is in the expertise shared and not the way the relationship is cultivated. A mentor may also be a like-minded individual who has experienced your career path and gleaned insights applicable to your situation. Or a mentor may offer a safe place to share your problems.

Now that you have a better understanding of the mentor–mentee relationship, you may realize that such opportunities are available. However, mentees must take the necessary steps to grasp them. Grand Canyon University is committed to making sure that, as a student, you have access to resources to help you succeed academically and earn your degree. GCU’s honors college offers mentorship from individuals in your field. The Colangelo College of Business helps students grow into business professionals.

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*Forbes, 76% Of People Think Mentors Are Important, But Only 37% Have One in April 2021

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Grand Canyon University.

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