Investing in yourself is one of the most important endeavors you will ever undertake during the course of your lifetime. Part of that investment should include aligning yourself with a knowledgeable mentor who takes a genuine interest in your pursuits.

There should be someone there to help you navigate the academic world and serve as your career co-pilot as you matriculate in your college or university.

A short while ago, I began creating my dream team of mentors. Each from a different walk of life, each providing advice from different perspectives. There are several career paths I would like to explore, therefore I was in need of an ensemble of people around me that can help me attack my obstacles from different sides.

Initially, I wanted to enter the world of business. I thought I could only reach my career goals if I was guided by a business professional. I was wrong. More than similar career paths, you need a mentor who takes an interest in your well-being, and if you’ve found someone who does that without you asking, you’ve stroke gold.

Mentors sometimes come unexpectedly and from unusual places. For instance, one of my professors in the business school shared a conversation he had with a faculty member and a mutual friend of ours. That conversation was a clarifying moment. This faculty member became the most influential person during my college life. He kept me on track from the beginning, guiding me in my personal life, school affairs, and career aspirations. He wanted to know everything, which is an attribute you want from a good mentor.

Another one of my mentors, the director of career services at my institution, is among the best for advice on formal career planning, and she always knows when a new opportunity presents itself . She was kicking around the idea of a blog for Career Services and I bet you can guess who’s going to be in charge of it.

The last mentor, and the one I envision myself becoming, has a habit of placing me in positions that challenge me to step outside my comfort zone. I’m consistently doing things that I’ve never done before and being introduced to brand new concepts I would not have otherwise been familiar with. From videography to social media activism, to public speaking, I’m thankful for the part he played in making me a more well-rounded individual.

If one mentor isn’t relatable, intently listens to you, and places you in positions to be successful, its time to start searching for another one, because all these areas need to be covered to unlock your potential.

Look for the gems that are already in your life, if there are none look for individuals you admire and talk to them. If they continue to make time for you then consider asking them to be your mentor. Either way, keep in contact with these people, even if you don’t begin a formal mentor relationship. It was the best thing I’ve ever done.

Give H.O.P.E. Live H.O.P.E.

James Jackson
Guest Blogger

About the Author

James is a blogger and finance student at Winston Salem State University. You can find more of James’ work on his blog, Twitter, or in an unfinished folder on his laptop. James has been published on the Huffington Post,, and StudentAdvisor among others.