Finding a mentor in the collegiate realm can be a daunting, awkward, and rewarding endeavour. I remember starting college and feeling a ton of pressure from my “freshman introduction” class to bond with professors and to try and really find someone who was the adult version of what I thought I wanted to be. Regardless of my concerns about acclimating to college, making friends (my own age), and just having fun… I remember also feeling kind of behind the curve because I didn’t seem to be making connections with faculty the way that I was told I should have been.

It took me a while to realize that the method of forcing relationships with professors was simply not going to work for me, and I would need to treat finding my mentor as a casual thing. It would happen when it was going to happen. If I was concerned with always trying to be “the” student that a professor was going to want to take under his or her wing, I would never get to shine and find a faculty member who would appreciate who I am for what I truly was and what I was truly interested in.

It took me until my junior year to realize that some of my mentors were not going to come in the form of professors. My mentors were coming in the form of advisors for organizations I was in. In the form of bosses from on-campus jobs. And most significantly, in the form of older students. My most meaningful mentors have been people who went through what I was going through just a year prior! Older students have collegiate experiences fresh in their mind, which is a perspective that you can obviously relate to.

Ultimately, I think it’s important to realize that a mentor can be any person in your life. Don’t feel that you are pigeon-holed into having one certain archetype of an adult as a mentor. A mentor is anyone who you can aspire to be like and who has your best interest in mind. Find someone who fits both of those criteria and don’t be concerned with their job role or their age. Just build real, genuine relationships and be ready to pay it forward when someone looks up to you in the future!