As a self-proclaimed introvert finding a mentor or talking to my advisor was a cause of stress for me. A mentor and a faculty advisor are 2 different things but they can help in similar ways. A mentor is something you usually have to ask for unless you get lucky and someone asks to mentor you. This person is usually in the professional field you want to be a part of or is connected to you in some other way. One of my mentors happens to be my faculty advisor. A faculty advisor is usually assigned to you by the University. They help with figuring out what classes you should take and what opportunities you need to stay on track for graduation and after.
If you haven’t noticed from my posts already, college is HARD. Having a person who has experienced college encouraging you and validating your feelings can be helpful. It is also motivating to have someone there to tell you to suck it up and push through.
I actually work for my faculty advisor in a research lab. She let me know that in order to be successful post-grad as a psychology major I needed to have lab experience. She has also hired me as an undergraduate assistant to one of her courses and recommends me whenever a staff member needs help.
References are an important and stressful part of obtaining the opportunities you want. It is not easy to build relationships with professors you might only have for one semester so having that relationship with your advisor or mentor can lighten the load of looking for professionals who know you enough to speak to your character. My advisor has also sent emails to companies I am interested in giving a reference.
This semester I’ve had to face the fact that I am not completely prepared for graduate school and that taking a year off might be my best option. Explaining this to my family has been frustrating and it seems like my fears are falling on deaf ears but my advisor understood my feelings. She told me she did the same thing and found it beneficial. Hearing her confirm my fears and dreams let me know that sometimes you have to trust yourself and move forward with your plans.
I say all this because I’ve seen students too afraid to try and build those connections, but the benefits far outweigh the uncomfortable feelings that come with putting yourself out there. So suck it up and build those relationships!