Have you ever heard the term ‘mentorship’? Maybe one of your high school guidance counsellors, TAs, profs, or RAs has used it. It’s a term that gets used a lot but seems to have a lot of different meanings to different people. It can be as simple as someone giving you good advice on a life problem or as involved as someone showing you how to succeed at something you really want to do (think learning how to play the guitar or mastering that coding software you really want to use).
Good mentors can be sports coaches, older family members (yes, Aunties DEFINITELY count 😉), artists you know, music teachers, or older co-workers who’ve been around and know all the lifehacks and job-hacks you can possibly imagine. You don’t need qualifications to be a mentor, but you do need a willingness to help combined with a certain level of expertise or experience in a certain area.
Sounding familiar? You may even be in the middle of mentorship and not even know it! If you aren’t in a mentorship kind of relationship right now but would like to be, check out our Rivers to Success Indigenous Mentorship program. It could be perfect for you! In addition to getting access to customized resources that’ll help you with everything from healthy eating to study tips to landing your dream job after school, you can be matched with a mentor who can help you out with whatever you need.
Still not convinced? Wondering what can mentorship do for you? So. Much. 😊 Here are just a few of the things good mentors can do:
Help you with school
Good mentors can not only help you with things like study tips and techniques, they can also give you some good insights on how to choose courses to help you get where you want to go after graduation – think TAs, upper-year students in your field, and study buddies. If your program features internships, get in there! Learning on the job from folks who have hands-on knowledge of what you’d like to do can be incredibly valuable experience.
Help you with life choices / life stuff
This is where the Aunties come in! :D Seriously, though, a good mentor whom you trust can help you make good decisions about things that you may be struggling with, whether that’s relationships, staying healthy, or keeping up with the demands of school. Hit up your school counselling service for some services and strategies designed to help you make good decisions. If you’re not on campus,
**Note: this is where it’s EXTRA important to talk to someone that you trust. A good mentor will always make sure that the conversation stays healthy; you should always feel safe and supported with your mentor, and they should never put you in situations where you feel unsafe or threatened. Having someone who’s qualified to work with students and who’s gone through background checks/security screenings is really important here.
Show you options for life after school
You’ve probably had experience with some of this from your school guidance counsellors (who might also have been mentors to you), but this kind of mentorship can come from older relatives, co-workers, and even friends who might be ahead of you in school. The career counselling centre at your school can also be a really valuable resource. You might even discover a path that you never knew existed!
Give you tips about prepping for the working world
Whether it’s giving you a personalized “What Not to Wear” session, helping you polish your resume, or practicing interview techniques with you, a mentor who’ll help you with career-related things is incredibly helpful. They can get you ready to land the job of your dreams when others might still be struggling to get an interview! This kind of mentorship can be found inside your school – think career counselling centres, TAs, or internship co-ordinators – but also outside. If you have a relative who’s in a field you really want to enter, don’t be shy about asking them for advice!
Keep you connected to community
Elders and Knowledge Keepers are some of the BEST mentors around. They’ve seen and done so much; they have a wealth of knowledge and are usually very happy to share it. They’re also the best places to go if you have life- or culture-related questions or just want to stay connected to tradition while you’re at school. If your school has an Elder in Residence, make sure you visit them and start learning! If not, there are online Friendship Centres like NewJourneys.ca that can be really great places to visit.
Share technical skills you might need
If you want to pursue a career in a technical profession, this is especially important. A good mentor will be able to share the nuts and bolts (sometimes literally!) of career progression with you – think a master/apprentice relationship in the trades. But it doesn’t have to just be technical skills. You’ll often find that you’re learning lots of other things while
Believe in you
Sometimes there are things that you just need to hear from someone outside your circle of family and friends. Getting that external validation – “you’re awesome, you can do this, everything will be okay” – is very powerful. Feeling that someone from the ‘outside world’ whom you’re not related to believes in you and your strength is really validating, and getting that morale & confidence boost is a real win. Take the win! You’ve earned it!
Remember: good mentorship is a two-way street. You’ll be teaching your own mentor things even as you’re learning from them! If this sounds like something you’re interested in, give it a try! Our Rivers to Success program is absolutely free. We’d love to meet you!