My journey with mentorship started informally during junior year when a student– just informally, he reached out to me via email. He had seen my name somewhere, and he wanted to talk to me about my experience. And I had seen mentorship being advertised in all of those emails. But as an international student, I didn’t really know what mentorship was or if it was actually going to help me. So I never signed up for any of those programs earlier.
But when somebody wanted to talk to me, obviously, I was pretty excited. And even though my schedule was crazy, I remember just sitting there, taking two, three hours out of my schedule just talking to him, telling him about what I did freshman year, how my experience was.
And I remember I slowly found myself telling him things that I wish I had done differently and mistakes I made– mistakes I didn’t want him to make. And it was so lightening to be able to– it was almost like– people tell you you don’t get a do-over, but I almost felt like I was getting a do-over because I was able to tell him what to do, what not to do. And he actually appreciated the feedback and wanted to follow my advice. And it was such a great experience. And I continued mentoring him informally, and other students, too.
And I then realized, well, my experience would have been so much more different if I actually had a mentor when I was in freshman year or sophomore year, or even right now. And so I started reaching out to more mentors. I had some mentors through some other organizations, but I went back to them with more meaningful questions that would help me personally and help me figure out things, given where I was in life.
And that truly changed my experience, because having a mentor– somebody who is in the right career path– can help you so much. I was an international student, and I was always asking my parents for advice. But they couldn’t give me that much advice because they didn’t know what I was going through. They didn’t understand the career path I was going in. They didn’t understand the US education system. So it was very hard for them to help me out, no matter how hard they wanted to help me out.
And so seeking out mentors really changed that for me. And today, I’m so grateful for all the mentors that I have, because they constantly tell me– and they catch me when I’m doing something that’s not good for me, and they help me find my direction. And that was another baby step, so to speak, that helped me attack a different side of the problem and help me get better.