December 21, 2012: the day the world would end. Millennials approached the Mayan-predicted doomsday with a mixture of humor and paranoia, neglecting responsibilities and of course, igniting the Twitterverse with farewell tweets.
But recent college graduates have much more than the destruction of civilization to worry about. Impending student loan payments, the pressure to find a decent job with a well-paying salary –– it seems post-grad life is far more troublesome than any apocalypse.
How can recent grads successfully navigate today’s disastrous job market?
The answer is simple: seek a mentor for the end of the world.
Socrates taught Plato everything he knows. Fabulously wealthy investor Warren Buffett credits much of his success to economist Benjamin Graham. And Oprah counseled just about every famous talk show host in the last decade.
Once hailed as a necessary component in the transition to the working world, mentors have a unique and varied position. They encourage career aspirations, often guiding entry-level candidates to achieve their professional goals. They listen, they teach; they’re introducers, educators and cheerleaders.
But in today’s hyper-connected world, the role of a mentor has changed dramatically. The trusted advisor is now called upon to serve as a networking guru, a master at introducing millennials to someone among their 500+ connections on LinkedIn. Grads request that mentors pass along resumes and “put in a good word”. It suffices to say that the demands placed on mentors today are, well, not very demanding.
In addition, there are countless training seminars, courses, webinars, advisory blogs and podcasts that tech-savvy grads rely on for coaching. It’s not surprising that seeking a bona fide mentor has dropped to the bottom of professional priority lists.
Despite this shift, there are people out there who genuinely want to help others succeed, and go above and beyond to do so. These people have a natural inclination to develop personal relationships and nurture professional growth. Post-recession grads can benefit immensely from these types of mentors, because they’re the ones best outfitted to help others survive a barren (or in this case, jobless) wasteland.
How does one find this kind of mentor? Establish the ideal mentorship in 4 easy steps:
1. Make a list
Compile names of potential mentors, and keep in mind that they don’t have to be related to your career goals. Focus on people you know and admire that may have a desire to work with you. If you’re already employed, check with HR for any mentorship programs. Consider looking outside the office (i.e., community leaders, coaches or pastors), and use your alumni network to get the most out of your college investment.
2. Reach out
Once you’ve narrowed down your choices, think about how you’ll approach them. The days of the formal mentorship request are over – keep things conversational and start by simply asking for advice on a specific problem. Much like networking, its important to cultivate the relationship slowly. Build up your questions over time so the mentorship feels like a natural progression.
3. Meet regularly
When you form the mentorship, stay consistent by scheduling meetings on an ongoing basis. These can be anything from informal coffee chats to phone calls or touching base via email. They key is to not only keep your mentor up to date with your career progress, but also to communicate effectively what you want out of the mentorship.
4. Be appreciative
Always, always show gratitude. Saying “thank you” is imperative, but do one better and find ways to make the relationship mutually beneficial. Offer to assist your mentor with research for a big project, organize his or her contact database, or make phone calls for an upcoming fundraiser. An added bonus: doing some extra work will demonstrate other skills your mentor may not have known about.
The seemingly catastrophic post-grad experience becomes much less intimidating with a reliable mentor by your side. Hollywood may have capitalized on the world’s imminent doom – the titular film Seeking a Friend for the End of the World was released in 2012 – but with these steps, recent graduates can also capitalize on all that mentors have to offer.
About the Author:
Suzanne De Vita is an online editor and content producer. Exceptionally vocal, she’s often found belting “The Star-Spangled Banner” or chanting “Roll Tide!” at her television. Her greatest loves are The Temptations, barnyard animals and cajun cuisine. She’s contributed to Chicken Soup for the Soul and the Anthology of Poetry by Young Americans, and received her BA from Quinnipiac University.