Lina's Tips: Do You Have a Mentor Yet?

By Lina Badih
Staff Editor

Alexander the Great had Aristotle, John Major had Margaret Thatcher and Oprah Winfrey had Maya Angelou. They all had mentors.

Maybe you could use one, too.

Whether a student, recent graduate or early-career professional, being mentored is a great bonus, especially if you're in a decision-making phase of your life, such as choosing a career and/or a major of study.

But what is a mentor? Who can be your mentor? And where did the idea of having a mentor originate from?

According to the Canadian Oxford Dictionary, a mentor is an experienced and trusted advisor or guide. The word "mentor" is traced back to Greek mythology. In Homer's classic tale "The Odyssey," Mentor was a friend of Odysseus who was entrusted with the education of Odysseus' son, Telemachus; hence, the term mentor.

A mentor will not make decisions for you, but he or she will guide you to the right path, provide you with another perspective on things and give you a pat on the shoulder every now and then.

Your mentor doesn't necessarily have to be a teacher, professor or senior professional. Your mentor could be your sibling, friend or anyone who inspires you or is a role model to you.

"With the right mentor, it makes all the difference. My mentor made me see how much potential lies within me and which I didn't know existed," says Montrealer Sahag Mahrejian who met his mentor two years ago when he signed up for a yoga course taught by the world-renowned spiritual leader Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev.

"The inspiring conversations I've had with him are so rooted in me that, on a daily basis, they pop up in my mind whenever I need them. They are a guiding force in my decisions," adds Mahrejian who keeps in touch with Vasudev via e-mail.

Mahrejian, who has a B.S. in medical lab technology and is considering applying for medical school, says being mentored particularly by a yoga guru has given him a deeper understanding of the human body and how it functions.

Schools recognize the importance of mentoring to students. Queen's University, for example, implements mentoring programs including an e-mentoring program in which the school matches the student with a mentor working in a field of interest to the student and the two maintain correspondence by e-mail over the course of one school year.

On the other hand, if you're a job seeker, your mentor will likely give you advice on how to devise a short-term and long-term career strategy, gain exposure in your field, create networking opportunities, change careers, negotiate salary, etc.

As a final resort, you can always pick up a be-your-own-mentor self-help book and mentor yourself into success!
Modified on April 23, 2009