The Role of Mentors during Education and Professional Lives

Having someone to guide us through the vicissitudes of life is always good and especially so when one is going through a tough time during either education or in professional life. These influencers and guides who are also known as mentors play a valuable role in shaping our lives and careers as they bring their experience to bear on the advice they give to us. For instance, in many business schools, one comes across the system of mentorship more than any other campus. This is because business schools are often demanding on the students and hence, having mentors who can advise and guide the students through the paces and motions of business school is an asset. This is the reason many fresh students once they start their education in business schools seek mentors from the senior batch for advice and guidance. Indeed, the practice is so prevalent in most of the premier business schools around the world that it can be formalized as a mechanism that can be followed in a structured manner. This might be the reason why some companies are experimenting with the concept of mentorship for fresh recruits who can be taken through the steps of building a career for themselves in the companies.

Talking about mentorship in the corporate world, more often than not your supervisor or manager is the first mentor for many graduates. As one begins to climb the steps of the corporate ladder, one comes across other mentors in situations according to one’s position that plays an important aspect of how one moves ahead in the corporate world. This informal and formal mentorship is essential and needed both in education and in the career as sound advice and proper guidance can make us avoid and commit the mistakes that would ruin our education or our career. However, in the corporate world, informal mentorship is often fraught with danger of the boss playing favorites and this is an all too common occurrence in organizations. Hence, there has to be some checks and balances where the boss guides the employees and treats all members of the team in the same unbiased manner instead of having a few favorites. This is the reason why formal and institutionalized mentorship is preferable in business schools as well as in the corporate world.

Apart from these aspects, many of us turn to virtual mentors and role models from public life whose lives and careers inspire us to give our best and emulate them. This can take the form of having a virtual mentor guiding us from the many websites and self help programs that are available in the market or by having role models from professional companies who are business leaders and who can inspire us to learn from them and be like them. Further, for many aspiring graduates and wannabe corporate high fliers, the most important influences are usually from the immediate and extended families. It helps if one has a role model within the family or circle of friends. It also helps if one is part of a group where everyone is doing well for himself or herself as the cascading effect on each member of the group can be felt. Of course, mentors are definitely needed for individuals who do not have these elements of familial, friendships or network effects and this is the reason why many aspiring management graduates from small towns seek mentors or role models who are public figures or actively try and make connections with those whom they feel can guide them through their careers and life.

Finally, the advent of social media has greatly helped the cause of those seeking and providing mentorship and therefore, it must be said that mentoring has definitely benefited from the spread of social media. A final note that needs to be mentioned is that as one seeks to avoid mistakes during one’s life and career, choosing mentors who are capable and worthy of the attention is as important as the former and hence, one must exercise caution before seeking advice and guidance.


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