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What do you think of when you hear the word ‘mentor’?
Perhaps a parent, a coach, or a teacher comes to mind? Or maybe a professor, instructor, or advisor?
In short, mentorship is guidance provided by an experienced person (mentor) to a less-experienced individual (mentee) in a professional, educational, or personal setting. How mentorship manifests is different for everyone; each mentor-mentee connection will have its own ‘flavor’ or nuances unique to the pairing.
After graduating with a degree in Biopsychology, Cognition, and Neuroscience this May, LSA grad Julia Doskoch knew she wanted to attend law school. She also knew that she wanted to take a gap year prior to applying to schools. But the rest of it𑁋what schools to apply to, how to best utilize her gap year, where to go next𑁋was uncertain. So, she went on the hunt for clarity.
Familiar with the LSA Opportunity Hub through her role as a Hub ambassador, Julia turned to LSA alums for the answer.
As a member of LSA Connect, a platform launched by the Hub that connects undergraduate LSA students to LSA’s vast alum network, Julia was able to find not one, but two, mentors.
“When faced with the decision on what to do in my gap year before law school, I sought advice from alums by posting a question on the LSA Connect discussion board,” Julia explains. “I received feedback from several people, and two of them reached out to me personally, giving me their contact information if I wanted to ask any further questions.”
Julia ended up calling both of the alums, searching for answers to her questions and guidance on how to pave the way forward.
“I had almost an hour-long conversation with an alum who had gone to law school at Harvard,” Julia shares. “He gave me incredible insight into not only the law school experience, but life after law school.”
What Julia engaged in is considered short-term mentorship: brief connections between mentees and mentors that are focused on the achievement of a specific goal. And these kinds of interactions happen over 15 times a week on the platform. For Julia, this meant clarifying her options based on the lived experiences of professionals who had walked paths similar to her own.
As opposed to longer term mentor-mentee relationships, short term connections offer students the opportunity to get specific advice that is actionable and immediately applicable to their professional journey.
“Maintaining a long mentor-mentee relationship can feel overwhelming,” Julia reflects. “Sometimes, all you need is a few pieces of advice on one quick question. LSA Connect is perfect for this, and it can easily turn short-term relationships into long-term ones if you’re willing to maintain [them],”
For students, the first step is determining your needs. Are you looking for immediate support on upcoming career choices like gap year plans, résumé building, or potential internships? Or are you hoping to build long-term relationships with alums in your field so you can further clarify your career interests and shape your professional development?
Regardless of your answer𑁋one, both, or none of the above𑁋it’s okay. LSA Connect is a platform customizable to your mentorship needs and career journey, ready to support you with features like a robust alum search function and a lively discussion board.
“Don’t be afraid to post on the discussion board and message alums individually,” Julia advises. “Many [alums] are more than willing to move off of the platform and have a longer informational-interview type conversation, which is often invaluable in the internship and job search process. [Alums] joined LSA Connect because they want to help [you].”
Julia utilized the platform to seek out answers and translated their learnings into applicable and actionable next steps.
“An [alum] told me about an internship program with the Washtenaw County Public Defender’s Office that she had completed while in undergrad, and recommended it, as it was a great learning experience for her,” Julia affirms. “I immediately applied for the internship and was accepted. I would have never gained that experience without her advice.”
After graduating this May, she’ll be working with an immigration law firm within Ann Arbor, gaining valuable experience and exploring her interests within law. Next fall, she’ll begin the process of applying to law schools.
Julia is an LSA Connect success story. You can be too. Head to LSA Connect now and experience the mentorship you’re looking for.