Tagged: mentors

Experiences College Students Say Lead To Success

When a college information session mentions the number of students who return for a second year, they are giving insight into the quality of the programs designed to integrate young students into the fabric of college life.  Most do a good job.

First Year Experience Programs that create  groups of students with similar interests or into a First Year Seminar in which all participants student the same thing or read the same book make it possible for new students to have an immediate group of acquaintances to walk with, talk to and meet for dinner or coffee.

The National Career Development Association polled students to formulate this list of activities that helped them stay the course to graduation.

6 College Experiences that College Grads Say Helped Them Be Successful  NCDA

  1. I had at least one professor at [college] who made me excited about learning.2.2. 2. My professor(s) at [college] cared about me as a person.
    3. I had a mentor who encouraged me to pursue my goals and dreams.
    4. I worked on a project that took a semester or more to complete.
    5. I had an internship or job that allowed me to apply what I was learning in the classroom.
    6. I was extremely active in extracurricular activities and organizations while I attended [college].

Point 1, having professors who create excitement about learning or who fuel your curiosity puts the onus on the professor to bring the subject to life.  You will meet professors who know a lot but aren’t inspiring teachers and you will meet professors who can make a brick wall interesting.  Don’t write off the boring subjects or boring teachers: learn what you can because somewhere, some time, you will be able to use that knowledge.

Notice that Points 2-6 all rely on the student to take initiative.

#2 For your professors to care about you they must know you.  Get over your intimidation and drop by office hours for a chat.  See them as people who happen to know more about a given topic than you do.  Pick their brain, ask questions, show interest.

#3 To find a mentor you have to  know people and when you find the right one you must ask.  Mentors don’t pop up out of nowhere: you have to look for and make connections with lots of people.  Put yourself out there!

#4 Projects that are interdisciplinary or are carried out over an extended period mirror work experiences.  Assisting a professor’s research or writing is a great way to get yourself known in your field.  Many undergrads are published before commencement.

#5 Internships are like jobs.  You will need a resume and an interview.  Students who expect the college or a professor to hook them up with an internship have missed the point.  Gaining experience requires that you know what you are good at as well as what you need to learn.  Guess what?  You will use those skills every time you look for a new job.  Internships create experience and networks that lead to your first post-grad job.  Use this opportunity to have as many internships or co-op experiences as possible.

#6 Joining organizations early in your first year is a great way to meet people and explore ideas or events that you might consider in your job search.  Students who spend their time with high school friends on FB or Instagram tend to be lonely and unhappy.  Choose a time once a week to check in with your old group but spend the bulk of your socializing hours getting to know the people in your new world.  Those with the most connections tend to be the happiest and most successful.  You may make life-long friends in the organizations you join.

To sum up, colleges have a responsibility to provide relevant knowledge and to make it available to students.  Students have the responsibility to build relationships with faculty and other students.  You aren’t in high school any longer; only you can make these years productive and fulfilling.

I have more transition advice for college-bound students.  Let me answer your questions and give you the confidence you need to flourish.  610-212-6679 or stephanie@accessguidance.com

Three Ways Women Help Themselves Succeed

Many articles have been written on the disparity between men and women in terms of income and holding executive positions.  I’ve gleaned some commonalities from the literature that point toward behaviors and attitudes that women can adopt in the pursuit of business, especially corporate, success.

  1. CONFIDENCE.  Men of all age groups express higher confidence in their abilities than do women in the same cohorts.  About half of women managers express self-doubt compared to less than a third of men.   Men are more likely to take public credit for success while women are more likely to believe their accomplishments should speak for themselves.   Feeling less confident can lead to a more cautious approach to applying for jobs, promotions and raises.              THE CURE: Keep a list of successes and accomplishments and add to it weekly.  When an opportunity comes your way find items on your list that speak to your ability to move forward.  Use your list to prepare to ask for the raise, promotion or additional responsibilities.
  2. MENTORS.  Mentors are people, usually more senior, who can guide one’s progress.  Women should cultivate male and female mentors, colleagues or bosses, who can point out useful projects, training or promotions. increase a mentee’s visibility. Take on the job of mentoring someone else as dues-paying but also to raise your own profile.
  3. SPEAK UP!  People who don’t work with you everyday can only know your strengths, attitudes and values if you speak up.   Adrienne Rich calls not taking credit or speaking up the Dutiful Daughter role: women who are good at what they do- but behind the scenes.                                                                                    THE CURE  Take credit for your achievements and your team’s success.  It might sound like this:  “I’ve lead a great team this year-here’s what we’ve done.” or “My team has excelled over and above my high expectations of them”.  These examples show how to take credit for leading as well as patting the team on the back.

In brief: Be certain that your boss and her boss know what you’ve accomplished.  Speak up in meetings so that others can know you and what you think.  Find a mentor and be a guide to others.  Go forth and tell everyone how great you are!

Lets talk about all the ways you can promote your work when its time for your annual review or you are looking for a new opportunity.  If you don’t speak for yourself, no one will! stephanie@accessguidance.com or 610-212-6679.

How You Treat Others Can Determine Your Career Fate

Morality tales always get me.  I’m a sucker for hearing how someone who did something unusually nice was rewarded by the universe in an unexpected way. *

Take Joel Marcus, Chief executive of Alexandria Real Estate Equities.  Joel has degrees in accounting and law; in his early career he worked for both CPA firms and law firms.

Law firms are notorious for ego-driven, overworked, lawyers and their even more overworked, underpaid staff.    Marcus made it his business to treat  support personnel with respect and dignity and was rewarded.

Not long after his taking a job at a law firm, a call came in from an investment banker for the head of the firm’s corporate division who happened not to be present.  The secretary who took the call directed the caller to Marcus, not because she knew he could help the prospective client  (which she didn’t), but because of his courtesy to her.

Marcus was hired to represent the client in an huge international deal that set up the trajectory for the rest of his career.

Not only does Joel Marcus represent the virtue of treating everyone well, but he is an example of someone who sought out mentors.  Rarely does anyone make it to the pinnacle of corporations or any other pyramid, without having a series of individuals who help them grow in the specific ways required of a particular career path.  Mentors can open doors, point out next logical steps or deficits of experience or training.  Mentees support the projects of their mentors and can be an asset in building the mentor’s career.  Mentors were a positive factor in Marcus’s success.

The Golden Rule that applies here is: Don’t step on others on your way up and be certain to thank all those who help you on your rise.


For individual help with the college to career transition or on your own career path, go to the Contact page and say yes to a free 60 minute consultation.

* Information from Corner Office, New York Times, 8/2/2015.




Coaches, Mentors and Sponsors: Which Do You Need Now?

On the surface these roles appear to be the same, to help you on your road to college, a promotion, a first job. All of them support you as you build your resume and take on new tasks. In reality, they perform differently. Sometimes you may need one more than the others.

Coach’s job is task oriented and performance focused. Her role is to help you reach a specific end result by enhancing a skill or changing a behavior. One might hire a coach to prepare you for public speaking, for a job interview or teach you how to use new software. The support of a coach is time and task limited. We all use coaches from time to time.

Mentor-Mentee is a mutually beneficial relationship. Each partner is invested in the success of the other,  Some mentoring is mandated by a program or organization, but more often it is voluntary. Mentors act as a sounding board and a giver of advice. In a corporation, a mentor may provide information on which skills and experience it will take to move to the next level.  The mentee becomes a follower  and supporter of the mentor, helping implement strategy or feedback.

Sponsors are more proactive on the behalf of their proteges. They assist with introductions and with assignments that attract notice. Sponsors are door openers. As a sponsor rises in her own career, she brings her proteges alone with her, giving them visibility and opportunities. Having a strong protege enhances the standing of the sponsor.

Mentoring and sponsorship are voluntary relationships, forged by bonds of common interest, stellar performance and loyalty. Rising stars in any profession increase the likelihood of success by attracting mentors and sponsors to guide them.

Students also need coaches, mentors and sponsors. Paid internships, research assistantships (undergrad and grad), graduate programs, fellowships, and post-doc positions are more attainable with a sponsor to write critical evaluations and letters of introduction. Good scholarship alone isn’t always sufficient to attain a coveted opening.

Timing is everything, so choose the support team you need in each situation.