Five ways Peer Career Advisors can become great mentors

Did you know: Career Advising & Professional Development (CAPD) offers juniors, seniors, and graduate students a unique opportunity to be mentors through the Peer Career Advisor (PCA) program? Every year, CAPD seeks out students interested in assisting their peers with career related questions through one-on-one appointments and open office hours. You may not realize this, but many of the skills and abilities you will hone and develop as a PCA can help you become a better mentor.

Here are five ways being a PCA can help you become a better mentor:

1. Help peers develop plans to establish and achieve goals

In career development, the journey is just as important as the destination. As a mentor, you have the opportunity to help your peers develop a plan to achieve their goals. The plan can be as simple as guiding them as they update their resume, identify company contacts, or find an internship. Or, it can be as complex as figuring out what they want to do with their life after graduation. Career planning and goal-setting are topics that CAPD regularly covers with students, and as a PCA you will have an opportunity to develop this competency further.

2. Identify and understand how to generate innovate solutions to your peers’ challenges

MIT looks to develop innovative approaches through science and technology—so why not help your peers generate innovative solutions to their career? The complexity of career development typically benefits from an outside vantage point—and as a PCA, you have this perspective! Being a PCA gives you a bit of an outsider’s perspective to a peer’s internal career dilemmas, and by developing your active listening as a PCA, you might help them (and future mentees) identify insights they can use to help solve their career problems.

3. Develop, motivate, and gain buy-in from peers

Mentorship is about making your insights relevant to your mentee so that they are motivated to act on their own. This will usually take effort beyond a single meeting with your peer, but as you develop a relationship you might have greater clarity on how to help them. Through your work as a PCA, you will have an opportunity to learn how to take a transactional relationship and build towards a transformational relationship that can aid you both as a PCA and as a future mentor!

4. Create relationships with others who have more experience or knowledge

Even as CAPD staff, with many years of experience, we know that we do not know everything. However, over time we have learned how to make connections with our peers to help improve our perspectives and knowledge on career development topics. You will have an opportunity to learn alongside many of the staff in CAPD, as well as from other students and employers. In some areas your mentee might have some experience and knowledge to help you become a better mentor! As a PCA, not only will you be able to bring in your existing connections, but you will also be able to make new connections that will help your understanding and knowledge of many different topic areas.

5. Share your knowledge and experience with others

After MIT, you will hopefully go on to join the many wonderful alumni who will help students through the Alumni Advisors Hub or other channels. In preparation for that, you can share your new found knowledge and experience with others by becoming a PCA today!

Interested in becoming a PCA? Apply to the PCA position in Handshake, or contact me (Erik Pavesic, epavesic@mit.edu). I look forward to working with you to help students at MIT and to help you develop as a mentor.

By Erik Pavesic
Erik Pavesic Assistant Director, Career Advising & Training