Thriving Together Series

Thriving Together Series: Mentoring for Career Development and Well-Being


By: Philip Wilkerson, Employer Engagement Consultant, University Career Services

“A mentor is someone who allows you to see the hope inside yourself.” 
– Oprah Winfrey

Mentoring relationships can be useful for both career development and well-being. When mentors and mentees focus on mentorship conversations together, valuable learning experiences can happen. Here are key career and well-being benefits of mentoring, plus tips on how to find a mentor.

The Benefits of Mentoring

According to a study by Sun Microsystems described in this article, people who participate in a mentoring program are five times more likely to advance in their careers than those who don’t. In addition, a survey conducted by Deloitte found that 80 percent of people who have had a mentor said they felt more motivated and engaged at work as a result. These statistics highlight the importance of mentorship and its positive impact on personal and professional development. Whether you want to improve your skills, expand your network, or gain valuable insights into your industry, mentorship can be a game-changer.

Over the years, I have benefitted greatly from being a mentor and providing mentorship in various capacities – including in my work for University Career Services and as a mentor in the Elena’s Scholarships for Student Well-Being program. A mentorship is a powerful tool that can provide valuable guidance, support, and encouragement for individuals looking to develop their skills and achieve their goals. Whether you’re a student just starting in your career or a seasoned professional looking to take your skills to the next level, having a mentor can make all the difference. In many instances, having a mentor will lead you to mentor others, thus making work a better place. This blog on the importance of mentoring in the workplace states that “89 percent of those who have been mentored will also go on to mentor others, and so contribute to this cycle of learning and development within an organization.”

A good mentor can help you navigate challenges, provide constructive feedback, and help you develop the confidence and knowledge you need to succeed.

Thoughts on Mentoring from My Network

I reached out to my network via this survey I created and asked them three questions:

  1. What does mentorship mean to you?
  2. Describe a positive mentorship experience, whether you were the mentor or the mentee.
  3. Please share one tip on how to find a mentor.

Laura Winkler wrote, “Mentorship is a supportive relationship between a mentor and a mentee that enables the mentee to grow, learn, and develop both personally and professionally as a result of the relationship, guidance, and encouragement from the mentor.”

“A mentor to me is someone who acts as an advisor to help another individual (their mentee) to grow and develop as a professional,” Chloe Clark shared.  “Mentors support growth. They serve as a source of knowledge. They can help set goals and help you maintain accountability. They can offer encouragement and help create connections and relationships through LinkedIn. Mentors are often great at listening and serve as trusted allies.”

JAKE Small (who capitalizes his first name) described a positive experience he had with a mentor. He wrote, “I had a mentor who supported me in my graduate school aspirations. He made himself available to answer questions about everything from how to write a strong personal statement to where to eat culturally affirming food in the area and where to get my hair done.”

The survey form is still open, so if you want to share your own experiences, please do so.

Tips on How to Find a Mentor 

Many students and young professionals have shared with me that finding a mentor can be a challenging task. My response to them is that it’s crucial to invest the time and effort to find the right person. Here are some tips to help you find the best mentor to help you achieve your goals.

“Starting with informational interviews is a great way to find a mentor,” Angela Newham wrote. “By meeting one-on-one with professors, leaders in your organization, and/or new professional contacts, you can ask questions about their career journey and begin identifying who you would like to strengthen the relationship with and eventually ask for mentorship.”

That’s great advice, and here are additional tips from me:

  1. Identify your goals and what you hope to achieve from a mentorship. A clear idea of what you’re looking for in a mentor will help you identify potential candidates who align with your interests and aspirations.
  2. Look for mentors within your network or industry. Contact colleagues, friends, or acquaintances with experience or knowledge in your field of interest. Attend networking events or join professional organizations to meet potential mentors.
  3. Feel free to ask for help. Once you’ve identified potential mentors, contact them and express your interest in mentorship. Be clear about what you’re looking for and how the mentor can help you achieve your goals – as well as what you can contribute to the mentorship. Remember that the worst that can happen is that they say no, so don’t let fear hold you back from reaching out.

Additional Resources

Write one of these Thriving Together Series features! We’re looking for contributions on all topics related to well-being. Read other Thriving Together Series articles here and contact us at for guidelines. Thank you for helping our Mason community thrive together online!