How to form organic mentor relationships

Momoka Sasaki/Staff

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The case for mentorship is an easy one to make. At their best, mentorships create lifelong friends, healthy habits and personal growth for mentors and mentees alike. At their worst, they’re networking opportunities. And while there are plenty of resources for formal mentorship programs on campus, such as the Sage Mentorship Project DeCal and the Starting Point Mentorship Program, a lot of stronger mentor-mentee relationships begin organically.

So, how can you kickstart an organic relationship as a mentor?

Offer to help someone with their resume or cover letter

We’ve all been there. Submitting an application, attaching necessary files and — yikes, we have to include both a cover letter and a resume. We read website after website looking for templates and examples, hoping to find helpful information for our own project. This is exactly the situation in which people need a mentor! It’s application season, so try reaching out to help friends with their resumes and cover letters. This will also help introduce you to their past experiences and shed more light on how you can help them grow.

Invite people to chat over coffee

Someone is trying to follow in your footsteps. Whether they’re a prospective UC Berkeley student, undeclared Haas applicant or someone seeking out your old research position, someone can benefit from hearing your story. If you invite someone to grab a cup of coffee with you, doing so will give you the opportunity to learn more about how you can help them find tangible next steps in their professional journey.

Invite younger students to networking opportunities with you

It’s recruiting season, which means it’s likely that you’re attending infosessions, mixers and other networking events. If you know of a younger student who may be interested in a networking opportunity you’re going to, extend the invitation! Not only is this a great way to facilitate introductions between your peers, but your mentor-mentee relationship will only grow stronger.

Share tips and resources as you come across them

Lastly, give the advice that you’re happy to receive. When you find helpful articles on how to respond to certain interview questions, or when someone sends you mock cases, share these resources with others. You can use this as an opportunity to start a conversation. Think, “Here are a couple of case interviews I’ve been practicing! Let me know if you want to walk through them together.” This practice is also just an easy way of letting your mentee know you’re thinking about them.

Be the person you needed before you found your way. UC Berkeley has a unique culture of brilliant competition, and it is not uncommon for us students to be swept up in our own pursuits. By implementing these four easy and organic steps, you can help lift others up while lifting yourself. To close, I’ll leave you with this classic Isaac Newton quote: “If I have seen further, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.” Be the giant in someone else’s life — we all need one.

Contact Brookey Villanueva at [email protected].