There is no doubt that my mentors have played a pivotal role in my success as a student, a professional and a friend. As much as I want to pass on the valuable insights and advice that were given to me, I often use my hectic schedule as an excuse to limit my involvement. However, as I reflect on the impact mentors have had in my life, I’ve realized that being a mentor has many advantages that are often unnoticed.
You’re investing in each other’s success.
As you invest in someone else’s success, you will naturally invest in your own. As a mentor, you are either setting the foundation for or contributing to your mentee’s growth. Being a mentor means that you are investing in the path of another who will contribute to your own success along the way. You are learning how to give legitimate advice, while simultaneously being supportive. Above all else, you have the opportunity to listen to someone’s educational or career aspirations, and navigating how your strengths can help them achieve their goals. On a similar note, this process also allows you to reflect on your own path and see what kind of support you need. These transferable skills stretch beyond your education and career, and spill over into relationships that you have with others outside of your field.
You’re an active member in the community.
As a mentor, you are engaging with your community to make a local impact. You have the privilege of being a part of how your community influences its citizens and shape the lives of others. You have the opportunity to empower and build your mentee’s resilience. You are leveling the playing field for those who may not have had the luxury of a good education or plentiful resources — you are an agent of change who builds your mentee’s confidence and pathway to succeed. It is the kind of mutual relationship that fulfills you.
You’re defying the stereotype of poor mentors.
There are mentors who aren’t supportive and only become mentors to boost their resumes. These mentors often see their role as a chore, and don’t recognize the advantages of contributing to someone’s success. The relationship will age and die out before the mentor realizes the opportunity of what can be learned from their mentee. Defying the negative stereotype means that you are taking a hands-on role in seizing the opportunity mentorship has.
As I reflect on the influence my mentors have had throughout my academic career, I’ve realized that I need to give back what has been given to me — guidance. The power of being a mentor stretches beyond your mentee’s benefits to your own. It would be a disservice to discredit what you can learn from your mentee and the skills you develop as the relationship grows. Don’t underestimate the power of mentor-mentee relationships, and the mutual impact it can have.
Brittany Wu is a master’s student studying Higher Education at the University of Pennsylvania.