Been there, done that: what mentors can do for you

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When I meet a successful person, I always want to ask them two questions: “How?” and “Will you teach me?”

I like to think that I have my goals set, but to see someone who has achieved their goals is inspiring.  I want the guidebook, the answers to my wildest questions to successfully acquire my ambitions. I want a Dr. Bailey to guide me through my intern years, a Mr. Miyagi to teach me how to become the ultimate karate kid and I want an Albus Dumbledore to help me master spells and become a strong wizard.

Basically, I want a mentor who can provide me with some form of direction to later find success.

However, I didn’t realize that mentoring is a lot more than just achieving success financially or professionally.

During the past spring semester I was able to take advantage of the Communication Honors Associates Mentor Program (CHAMP) program and be paired with a mentor at the top of his field. Through this experience, I realized mentoring is about finding good people in the world and helping one another become better people. My mentor taught me an important lesson: success will come through being a good person.

One of the first things I did with my mentor was take a StrengthsFinder 2.0 Quiz. We sat down and discussed what makes me me which meant also figuring out what my strengths are and their significance. The conversations also included why I want to be a journalist, what inspires me, what my family is like and where we get our news from. My mentor emphasized that at the end of the day, what really matters is staying focused and being a respectful to people who you meet as you work to achieve your goals.

Mawuena Sedodo, a rising senior, spent the spring semester working with a mentor in the same program. “It’s nice to hear from someone who has actually been in your shoes,” said Sedodo. “I believe that mentorship can give you a leg up in life and help you decide what you really want.”

The mentoring relationship led to me to enjoy a Seton Hall University basketball game while rubbing shoulders with important people in my field. It also led me to attend a luncheon hosted by the Provost and even helped in landing a summer internship with CBS. Through the experience, I have truly realized that mentors cannot offer you a “guidebook with all of the answers,” but rather can act as a guide to help keep you grounded and understand the opportunities out there.
Siobhan McGirl can be reached at

Author: Siobhan McGirl

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  1. I’ve been fortunate in having some truly great mentors, and in return, I’ve tried to mentor others. I’ve also thought a great deal about mentorship.

    I think that mentorship actually comes very naturally when the right humans get in touch with each other. The big problem is how to get those two “right people” in touch.

    So far as I can tell, most efforts to promote mentorship revolve around making those contacts and encouraging those “right people” to stay in contact.

    This fall I’ll teach a Freshman Seminar here at Cal about “Mentorship.” I’ll encourage students to realize that bits of mentorship happen all the time, and that people who recognize those bits of mentorship can make the re-occur until they add up to great mentorship!

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