Peer Mentoring in College, What’s In It For Me?

Photo by Rawpixel Ltd.
Photo by Rawpixel Ltd.

By Colin Wylie

Professionals frequently hear the call to action to become mentors to the rising generation. Numerous studies have indicated the correlation between mentorship and engagement in the workplace. Recently, a study of millennials by Deloitte indicated, “Mentoring is having a positive impact and six in ten (61 percent) Millennials are currently benefiting from having somebody to turn to for advice, or who helps develop their leadership skills.”

While this call is critical, does it only apply to aged professionals or is there a need for college students to mentor their peers? In short, the answer is yes. Students must look for ways to mentor their peers.

On what seems a daily basis I encounter bright-eyed college freshmen without any form of direction. They go to their classes, engage in some form of social life and at the end of the day, don’t make steps toward their career until they hit the halfway mark of their junior year. By engaging with our peers and looking for opportunities for mentorship, we can help them successfully navigate their college experience.

Here’s the catch. Most college students would suggest that they don’t have the time to commit to mentoring a peer. I can understand that sentiment through firsthand experiences, as a pre-professional that wants to be as involved as possible during my undergraduate degree. Yet, I recognize the value in mentorship not only for the mentee, but for the mentor. Might I suggest a few reasons why you should consider becoming a mentor.

Learning Through Teaching

“Those who know, do. Those that understand, teach.” Aristotle taught this principle thousands of years ago, and it is backed by modern science. In a Time article written by Annie Murphy Paul entitled The Protege Effect, she suggests that, “Students enlisted to tutor others work harder to understand the material, recall it more accurately and apply it more effectively.” If you want to sound more intelligent the next time you run into a CEO, why not practice by sharing information with a peer? You will be able to retain what you are learning in class and use it more effectively in the future to your benefit.

Resume Builder

Another concrete benefit to mentoring someone comes through a boost to your resume. This may be manifest through another bullet point, but can be a great speaking point in interviews. Imagine an interviewer asks one of those generic questions like, “Tell me about a challenge or conflict you’ve faced at work, and how you dealt with it.” You could proceed to ramble off a basic answer to this query, or take opportunity to share how you dealt with this conflict and then taught another how do the same. This will show that you are a team player, are focused on leadership and self-driven.

Relationships that Matter

Through the mentoring process, you can develop lasting relationships. I have lost count of the many friendships that I have made through the mentoring process. I can also think of several connections I have made to professionals through the network of those I have helped. You can never underestimate the power of relationships, because it could be a connection closer to your dream job (or perhaps Kevin Bacon).

I love this quote by bestselling author, Richie Norton; “Mentors change lives, but students change mentors’ lives more.” Taking up the call to action and engaging in mentorship is critical if we all hope to progress together. You can help shape the future of your peers by taking the time to answer questions and give insights. For those of you that don’t think that you have any special knowledge or skills to bring to the table, reconsider. What you have learned in your personal journey, may just turn into the piece of advice to change the life another.

Colin Wylie  Colin Wylie is an undergraduate student at Brigham Young University, studying Public Relations and Nonprofit Management. He is the VP of Publications for BYU PRSSA and in September, began his own blog, The Sharp Student, to assist pre-professionals in their journey to the workforce.

2 thoughts on “Peer Mentoring in College, What’s In It For Me?

  1. I appreciate your view on mentors, professionally and pre-professionally. It is so important to share your knowledge and experience with people younger than you. It is also amazing what mentors can learn from their mentees. After all, public relations is centered around building relationships.
    – Hyland Stockton, Platform Magazine Writer/Editor

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