This blog post comes to us courtesy of Ellen Sweeney, a student at UC Davis and our amazing intern/mentee here at Over My Shoulder Foundation. We are thrilled with the Mentorology story she came up with today. We want to encourage you all to think back on your education, your teachers and your mentors. Write to us to share your stories and inspiration. We appreciate your support, your thoughts and your time. Enjoy the post about “Finding Your Own Ilene”.
-Dawn Carroll, Over My Shoulder Foundation Co-Founder
At the beginning of our school careers, it seems as if there is a fairly straightforward path in life. If you work hard, get good grades, and get accepted to a good college, it follows that you should be able to get a good job once you graduate. However, once you get to college and beyond, there are so many possibilities and options and decisions that it is difficult to know the best way to get where you want to be.
John Green is a New York Times best-selling author and founding member of the 2-part Vlogbrothers (a popular YouTube site he started with his brother Hank to keep in touch and stay smart). He recently made a video in which he discusses how crucial his mentor was in helping him get his first book (Looking for Alaska) published. He explains how much his mentor helped him improve his writing and that he wouldn’t be where he is today without her. Now that John is a well-known author, he has started mentoring other authors. He tells his viewers that whatever field they are interested in, they should find someone who is better than them in that field and take that person’s advice.
This point in life when your future is so uncertain is frightening because, as John Green says in his video How to Become an Adult, it feels like making a mistake will somehow leave you “homeless and hungry and alone.”
The video struck chords of resonance with my classmates. Claire said, “John’s description of life after college is similar to the way I feel now as a student getting ready to graduate.” Someone else said, “Having a mentor would make the transition from college to career so much easier. We allow ourselves to have people to look up to and provide some framework and guidance most of our lives – why not now? I’ll definitely be looking for someone to take me under their wing, to inherit their wisdom and experiences. I hope that one day I can be a mentor to someone else too!” Blake says, “I do not currently have a mentor, but after watching John Green’s How to Become an Adult I am sure I am going to need a mentor after college and I could even use one now. It would be nice to have someone who can help me figure things out about my career path because they themselves have gone through a similar situation.”
As students getting ready to graduate from college, we need mentors now, perhaps more than ever. Mentoring is important throughout life, but this video just got me thinking.
John’s video makes a point about the time period right after college. Graduates probably are not yet doing exactly what they want to be doing. The solution to this, according to John, is to “Get an Ilene.” After he graduated from college, John worked at a magazine in a job full of “crushing monotony.” On the bright side, he was in an environment full of older coworkers who were much more experienced than he was. One of these coworkers was Ilene Cooper, a writer whom John went to for advice and help developing his own skills as an author. Eventually, with Ilene’s guidance, John was able to publish his first novel and finally had the job he really wanted. It is inspiring to see that someone as successful as John Green went through such challenges early in his career and overcame them through the help of a mentor.
I am a student. I am glad that I have found some great mentors in my life. I am even more glad that I found the Over My Shoulder Foundation and can spend some of my time sharing stories about mentoring. Hopefully the story about John Green and Ilene Cooper, a Mentorology dream team, will encourage one of you to both find a mentor and become a mentor today!