Find a Mentor as an Online Bachelors Student

Some of the most formative and important learning experiences I had as a college student occurred outside of the classroom. Quick and casual conversations with professors in the hallways, library and dining halls; on Main Street; and during office hours guided my career planning, aspirations, goal setting, professional development, resume-building endeavors and eventual success.

These faculty served as mentors and added enormous value to my education, far beyond the curriculum. Some forward-thinking institutions have incorporated formal mentorship for online students. At Western Governors University, for example, every online student gets a mentor. They maintain contact every two weeks.

But without a formal mentoring protocol, many online bachelor’s students must intentionally seek out a faculty mentor because informal exchanges in the hallways simply can’t occur. Below are five suggestions for online students to establish and maintain meaningful student-mentor relationships.

1. Identify faculty mentors: Look for somebody in your discipline who has professional and research experience or abilities that you desire. Even if you are assigned a formal adviser to help you schedule courses, a mentor is an additional person in your corner.

Find a Mentor as an Online Bachelor's Student

For example, if you are a business major, and you aspire to work as a corporate analyst, you should seek out a faculty member who has a business analytics background in his or her faculty profile and ask if he or she would be willing to offer you occasional professional advice as you pursue a degree.

2. Take time to build relationships: Students should identify potential faculty mentors early in their studies and begin asking questions or bouncing ideas off them. For example, send a quick email that says, “I noticed your faculty profile says you worked in digital marketing strategy. I’m a first-year communications student, and my goal is to be a chief digital officer. What can I do now that will set me up for success? Would you mind being a sounding board for my career?”

Faculty love these questions, and asking them can build a solid relationship with someone who can really assist later on.

3. Seek internships: Whether or not internships are required, they can be a great way to put academic skills to use and experience a profession firsthand. Ask a mentor when and what type of internship might best serve to further advance your professional goals.

4. Ask career services professionals for help: Practically every university has a career services office. Though not usually faculty, these professional staff are a wealth of knowledge about job placement, interviewing, crafting a resume, writing a cover letter and building a personal brand. Make special efforts to know them and share your professional goals with them.

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