Mentorship in Engineering
Mentorship is important in any career, but in engineering, it is practically essential.
As an engineering student, you need an upperclassman to tell you which professors to take, what to expect from your capstone class, and which companies offer awesome internships. As an intern you need someone to show you the ropes. This can be anything from teaching you technical skills to telling you where the best lunch spot around your office is.
A good mentor inspires you to be a better engineer, shares their resources and connections and helps you navigate new challenges. They can also share their experiences and advice for navigating similar situations.
If you don’t have a formal mentor, there are a few ways you can find one!
- Check with your student organizations. Many engineering organizations can pair you with an upperclassman and some even have alumni or other connections in the workforce who can serve as mentors.
- Ask your professors. If you are looking for guidance in your specific major or career field it can be tricky to find mentors who align with that, especially female ones. Ask your professors if they know of anyone. Their past students or even colleagues could be incredible connections for you.
- Go through national organizations. IEEE, SWE, ASME, NSBE and more have formal mentorship programs that expand your network nation and world wide. Use these resources!
It can feel awkward to ask someone to serve as a formal mentor but it can really be a mutually beneficial relationship. Just like you learn from your mentor, they learn from you. Be sure to be respectful of their time and make it clear what you are hoping to gain from the relationship. Setting up a formal meeting time and letting them know what you would like to discuss ahead of time can help you get even more from the experience.
As you are being mentored, you can also consider how you can serve as a mentor to someone else. Does your university or student org look for volunteer mentors? Can you mentor a high school student who is considering studying engineering? Both being mentored and mentoring someone else helps you reflect so much on your work, habits, personal and professional development, and can make engineering feel even more rewarding!