Some of the most exceptional entrepreneurs credit mentors for helping them to achieve success.
Sir Richard Branson relied on Sir Freddie Laker to give him insider information about the airline industry when he was trying to get Virgin Airways off the ground.
Lean In author and former Facebook Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg sought the guidance of her college professor Larry Summers, who went to on to become US Treasury Secretary.
And billionaire investor Warren Buffet connected with Bill Gates to offer corporate guidance.
But you don’t need to be a world-renowned business name to benefit from a mentor. In fact, university is the perfect time to begin to learn from a trusted, more knowledgeable person.
Being a mentee is a great opportunity for students to bounce ideas off someone with a wealth of experience. They can learn about the latest industry insights, developments and trends from a trusted source.
It’s also a personalised service. There are no barriers as to what you can ask. If you’d rather not approach your lecturer about an issue, you can ask your mentor instead.
“Many students tell us how invaluable it is as they prepare themselves for job searching. Mentors have helped them with their LinkedIn profiles and advised them how best to boost their employability,” Amy Hold, ECU’s Alumni Relations Manager, says.
The mentor programs offer students a connection with industry and there’s always the potential that it may open up future career opportunities.
Being a mentor can be an extremely rewarding experience. There’s a great sense of satisfaction from helping others to achieve their long-term goals.
Professor Arshad Omari, the Senior Deputy Vice-Chancellor at ECU, says it’s beneficial both ways.
“Being a mentor within a company is highly regarded by your fellow colleagues. Your workplace will be impressed that you are building your leadership and management skills and being exposed to fresh ideas from those who are learning the latest practises,” he says.
The ECU Peer Mentoring Program connects more experienced students from second year and above with new first year students.
For the mentee just starting out at ECU, their mentor can offer support and guidance on navigating university and their studies in the crucial first semester.
They meet in small groups face-to-face and keep in touch via email to chat about their university experiences.
For students on the cusp of graduating and beginning their professional career, learning from those already in industry can be immensely valuable.
The ECU Alumni Mentoring Program takes place in semesters 1 and 2 each year, and is run in collaboration between the Careers and Leadership Service and the Alumni Relations Team.
“Mentees are matched with appropriate mentors within the same discipline. At their initial meeting both parties outline their aims or objectives and they then catch up two or three times over the next six months or so,” Ms Hold says.
“It’s hugely popular, we have 60 people paired together throughout a year and they’re from different degree courses."
“Since we started it in 2014, 1,000 former graduates have come forward to express an interest in becoming mentors.”
“We’ve also introduced an online mentoring service, where students can pose questions to mentors on a digital platform. This is ideally suited to those who live in more remote areas and may be time poor,” said Amy.
Karl Klemm studied a Bachelor of Business at ECU and was mentored by Gavin Bain, CEO of award-winning Perth advertising agency Meerkats and an ECU graduate from the class of 1999.
“A lecturer can explain ‘the theory of it’, but this person from within an industry can tell you ‘this is what we do and this is what we find works and this is how it happens’,” Mr Klemm explains.
Mr Bain said in his experience, those who take part in these programs are highly motivated, ambitious and passionate.
So positive was Mr Klemm’s experience as a mentee, he is now giving back to the next generation of students.
“Now I’ve graduated and have a few years of industry experience, I’ve become a mentor myself. I want to give back to others what I experienced.”
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