Mentors and Career Professionals Can Help You Choose Your Career Path

Many students find mentors at career or job fairs.

Have you ever tried to find something in a completely dark room, or have you taken a walk on a moonless night? Without light to guide your way, finding a path can be overwhelming, confusing and frustrating. The same can be true when trying to navigate through life without the advice or support of a trusted friend or mentor.

What is a mentor?

According to the National FFA LifeKnowledge program, a mentor is an adult who provides a young person with advice, support and friendship, and serves as a constructive example. LifeKnowledge defines a protégé as a young person seeking advice, support,and friendship from an adult other than a parent or guardian.

A formal mentor is different from a friend who hangs out with you at the football game, livestock shows or after a long day at a leadership conference. Generally, mentors are sought for their advice on professional-growth issues. Mentors can help you choose a career path, plan out study strategies, encourage engagement in extracurricular activities, and present opportunities to be involved in your community or professional career areas. Mentors can also help you deal with personal issues and provide a trusted adult perspective on many issues that teens face. Mentors may not always say what you want to hear, because their role is to give you honest professional advice based on their life experiences.

Here are some tips to help you find and develop a strong relationship with a mentor.

Develop Your Mission and Vision Statement.

Some of the best-laid plans come with an end in mind. Before determining your mentor, it’s good to evaluate your own plans for life.

The National FFA LifeKnowledge mentoring lesson outline’ several steps to developing personal mission and vision statements. A mission statement is the ability to envision and imagine one’s future and establish an ultimate dream. A vision statement is the establishment of one’s ultimate dream for the future and how it will impact others. Consider your likes or dislikes, personal dreams, gifts and talents. Then, match up these with people in your community who could be potential mentors for you.

Identify a Mentor.   

Choose a mentor that you admire and one who has accomplished goals similar to those you have set for yourself. It might be a family friend, a teacher, someone from a local civic organization or even an FFA alumnus from your chapter.

The key is to find someone who shares a mutual interest with you – in your personal, career and life goals – and will be willing to meet or correspond with you on a regular basis. A great place to start the relationship is by sharing your mission and values statement, then asking your mentor to help you critique, improve or hold fast to these statements or ideas.

Stay in Contact.

You can contact your mentor by phone, e-mail or a personal visit. Always keep safety in mind, and ask a parent or adult family member to make the initial contact with your mentor. Meet your mentor for lunch or coffee, or invite them to visit with you in your agriculture classroom after school. In today’s technology-driven world, e-mail and text conversations are also great ways to communicate with your mentor. Regardless of the communication method, make sure you keep up a regular conversation and continue to develop a trusting, positive relationship.

– Christy Rogers-Brown