A mentor is considered to be an experienced and trusted advisor. An advisor who can often help guide an individual on a path towards a particular goal. A good mentor will provide information and knowledge. In addition, a good mentor can also provide constructive criticism, discipline, encouragement, connections, and tools to help stimulate personal and professional growth. Mentors also help people learn more about themselves. Depending on the desired goal, having someone available to share inside knowledge can help temper expectations or raise optimism and excitement. All of this, and more should be considered when choosing the right mentor for you.
Obtaining The Right Advice
When starting a new task, project, or endeavor, I will usually seek the advice of a mentor. When I sought out to pursue computer engineering, one of the first things that I did was seek a mentor. I wanted to learn from someone who had been there before. If I would’ve decided to study pharmacology, then I would have sought the advice of a pharmacologist, but I chose computer engineering. Initially, I found it pretty difficult to find a mentor. No one in my social circle was a computer engineer, and the only engineers that I knew were people who worked out at the local YMCA that I would randomly talk to. I would usually find out a person’s profession through small talk. I latched on to everyone and everything that I could in order to learn more. Unfortunately, I never met anyone in the computer engineering field that way. Although, I did meet a few chemical, mechanical, and electrical engineers. It did not matter, I still took baby steps. I asked all of them about the math and physics requirements for an engineering major. I asked about which classes I should take, the level of difficulty of those classes, and general questions regarding tuition and other finances. I ask them all about their college experiences and how did they personally navigate through their respected engineering programs. By doing so, I was able to gain valuable information that I would be able to use later on.
It’s Not Always What You Expect
Finding the perfect mentor is not always easy but in general we can all learn from others. Truthfully, I envisioned the perfect mentor being someone that I could relate too. Being an older student and a black male with a unique background, at times there was no one around that I felt that I could personally relate too. Sure, there are clubs like NSBE, which we do promote on this site (and I do suggest checking out their services as well as the other featured organizations that we help promote under scholarship opportunities) but at that time it wasn’t like I could just go to their site, and automatically it would link me up with a professional mentor 5 minutes away, who is a computer engineer, that could give me tips on navigating through the university system, and tech industry as a black man. Ultimately, I did not find the mentor that I had envisioned but I did eventually find plenty of help along the way. I dove into this website because it gives me the opportunity to help others and provide a little motivation and guidance as I continue forward on my own journey as well.
Achieving Your Goal
The reality is yes, you can reach your goals without a mentor. It will likely be harder, and hopefully you will learn from your mistakes more often than not, but it can be done. Make it a point to continually learn from others throughout your STEM journey, no matter if it involves your education, career, or personal business. You can always learn from others, whether it’s from their good advice or their mistakes. Also, your perfect mentor may NOT look like you, sound like you, or even relate to your background. Be open, just as you may surprise others, others may surprise you. The perfect mentor for you may turn out to be someone who you never expected. You may also be the perfect mentor for someone else out there.
Every Little Bit Counts
My hope is that this site can provide a small bit of mentor-ship for someone, even if it’s just supplemental at best. Hopefully it will continue to grow and provide more resources along the way. If you would like to become a mentor, or you know someone that needs a mentor, then I would be remiss if I did not give honorable mentions to the organizations below. Although these organizations are not specifically STEM, they each continue to change the lives of individuals everyday by making a positive and meaningful impact through mentor-ship and other services.
Big Brothers Big Sisters of America
Boys and Girls Club of America
In addition, If your looking for a business mentor for your small business, do not underestimate your local chamber of commerce.
I’ll leave you all with this short video below showing Steve Harvey talking about mentor-ship. It a short interesting clip that is straight to the point explaining one easy way to find a mentor.
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