Thomas Edison State University By Thomas Edison State University • October 3, 2014

How Graduate Students Can Use Mentors to Make Smarter Career Decisions

Whether you are an entrepreneur, a manager or a corporate leader, you know how crucial it is to network with clients, industry peers, colleagues, even family and friends. At times when you aren’t working, you understand the opportunity to connect can happen anywhere; a trip to the coffee shop or driving your kids to school might lead to a career move, potential sale or chance to learn. But, as a graduate student, did you ever stop and think that one of your most beneficial career contacts might also be grading your assignments?

While online course mentors facilitate your learning and guide your degree pursuits, they also have extensive experience in business and management. Many continue to work and have become thought leaders in their respective fields. They can be a career resource, offer solutions to real-world business problems or just talk your industry. Mentors do more than teach graduate courses online; they support, challenge and enhance your personal and professional growth.

Mentors refine your critical thinking skills. 

Mentors will pose questions that seek to enhance your leadership competencies and skills. You will be asked to solve complex business problems, and explain the steps you took toward a solution. This approach will prepare you to identify and evaluate key issues in an increasingly competitive marketplace. 

Mentors are the ultimate career reference.

As witnesses to the quality of your work and abilities, mentors can attest to your learning accomplishments and expertise. If you are a proactive student that stands out in your courses, your mentors can be your strongest career references. (Just be sure to ask them first!)

Mentors are a source of much-needed advice.

Ever feel like you can’t solve an issue when you’re so close to finding the solution? Mentors are the ideal experienced and unbiased resource to turn to when you’re stuck on a project, facing a conflict or encountering a career setback. They can relate how they might have handled a similar situation. Take advantage of your mentor’s expertise and background to explore ideas that you may not have considered before. 

Mentors offer opportunities for career networking.

Mentors have built a wide network of industry connections throughout their careers, and can be a valuable resource as you establish your own. Maintain a professional relationship long after you finish your course and connect with your mentor on LinkedIn.

Mentors help you improve your weaknesses.

While your mentor will return feedback with your graded assignments, you can always take the extra opportunity to ask for constructive criticism. Even if, at first, you feel awkward, the additional insight and encouragement you receive will be well worth it. After all, there is always room for improvement.

Thomas Edison State University

Written by Thomas Edison State University

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