The Best Ways to Find a Mentor Without Leaving Your Campus
You’ve got big dreams and ambitions—but is it enough? To enhance your success, you should surround yourself with the best and the brightest. It’s a simple notion: if you associate yourself with the best, you’ll become the best. With that, a critical piece in your journey to becoming an auditing professional is finding a mentor, and a mentor that will fit you. It takes dedication and patience to find the right fit, but it’ll be worth in the end.
Finding a mentor is a great way to get your feet wet and help you navigate in an unfamiliar environment. Be proactive—there are ample opportunities out there to align yourself with helpful individuals and top organizations. If you put yourself in the position to interact with leaders in your desired profession or industry, you will expose yourself to many opportunities to meet a possible mentor.
The key is to focus on building the relationship. Be specific, not vague. Ask clear-cut questions. Don’t ask, “Hey, will you be my auditing mentor?” Instead, get to the point and ask specific questions. For example, “I want to be an auditor and would like to know what are the ideal steps that I should take to become one? For example, should I intern while I’m in college? Also, would you mind if I used you as a continual resource to help direct me along my journey?” By asking specific questions, you take away the pressure of “being someone’s mentor,” and pave the way for an organic mentorship to develop.
While a traditional mentor is ideally someone who can guide you through your entire career, there are several other options to consider:
- Join a Profession Based Club or Organization
Most colleges have many student organizations to help you get involved and connected during your time on campus. Consider joining a group that will help you get a leg up in your career. One great organization is:
Beta Alpha Psi (BAP)
Founded in 1919, BAP is an honor organization for financial information students and professionals. With over 300 chapters and 300,000 members on college campuses, many of whom are aspiring auditing professionals, it is likely that your school has a chapter! BAP has tons of networking events, providing the perfect opportunity to connect with your peers and find a mentor. Attend a chapter meeting and stick around after to talk with the guest speakers—many are from large audit firms. Additionally, reach out to the chapter president or secretary, they can connect you with potential mentors.
Additional professional based organizations that are worth exploring are the National Association of Black Accountants (NABA) and the Association of Latino Professionals for America (ALPHA). Visit your college’s student organization site to see what they have to offer.
- Career Center
Depending on the resources at your school, you could check out the Career Center. Career counselors can connect you with faculty members you may not otherwise have access to. Life is a series of networks, and academic connections can be very impactful. Someone always knows someone else that can help. So, be proactive and ask.
Auditing firms have offices in cities all across the globe, and many of them have formal internship programs for college students. While interning, you have the prime opportunity to connect with someone only a few years out of college who could help guide you along your career path. After all, they have a good idea of what you are going through! Although you’ll likely be clos while you’re at the internship, it’s up to you to make sure the relationship doesn’t fizzle out afterwards.
Don’t always look up, look to the side. Peers are great people to connect with and learn from. Peers are valuable because they’re closer to the issues you’re struggling with right now. As a bonus, their weaknesses may be your strengths, and vice versa. This allows you to form a natural, mutually beneficial relationship where you can peer review materials and hold each other accountable to take the next steps to reach your career goals. Remember, rising tides lift all boats.
You don’t need to meet someone, or even speak with someone, to be mentored by them. Your online resources are vast. Think about all of the podcasts, interviews, books, and articles that are available online which can offer a much deeper perspective than any conversation you could have over coffee. While the Internet cannot personally give you advice, it’s there for you to explore and revisit as often as you want. (And of course, where to find the best online resources would be a great question to ask a mentor!) There is an explosion of free information waiting for you. In fact, at DiscoverAudit.org, there is an “Ask An Auditor” page with direct access to real auditors! You can ask any question you want.
Finally, remember that diversification is key—don’t look for one, look for many. If you’re only getting advice from one person, you’re missing out on hearing and learning from different points of view. Building a strong network of relationships expands your perspective and knowledge base. It’s never too early, so, get out there and get networking.