How to find a college mentor

For many students, it's tough to balance college, part-time work, family responsibilities and – just maybe – maintaining a social life. Finding work after graduation can be even more daunting, especially if you're studying a major with a lot of competition for jobs. Finding a mentor in college can be a great way to ask questions, learn from someone else's experiences and get some perspective on what to do when you graduate, but how do you find a college mentor?

The first thing to remember is that it's never too early to start looking for a mentor, even if you're still filling out college applications. In fact, the sooner you start, the more likely you are to establish a relationship with someone in the industry you want to work in. Also, forming these kinds of connections early can help shape your academic path, making it easier to stay focused on your goals.

Speaking of objectives, it's important to know what yours are before you look for a mentor. Sure, it's great to have someone to answer your questions, but what do you want to get out of a mentor relationship? Are you looking for guidance about electives? Help with networking? What about where to actually find jobs in the field you're studying? Knowing what you want to accomplish can help you find someone suitable to be your mentor, and make sure that you're not wasting anyone's time by asking irrelevant questions or heading in the wrong direction.

Whatever you're hoping to get out of having a mentor, don't be shy. Even if you're still filling out college applications or doing a college search, start reaching out to people in your prospective field. Send polite emails to companies you'd like to work for, asking if any employees or managers have a few minutes they could spare to talk to you. Although you should always be polite and courteous, you should also be tenacious – don't give up, and be patient. Forming relationships and professional connections can take time.

Use the power of social media to your advantage. Follow people on Twitter, like company's Facebook pages and use sites like Pinterest to increase your online presence in your field. Twitter and Facebook can be excellent ways to make informal connections. Again, if you take this approach, have an objective in mind so you stay on-track and don't waste time. 

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