Mentorship: Advice for Success

Like many institutions, Ohio State had to cancel our 2020 commencement celebrations due to the COVID-19 pandemic.  Though a long time coming, on August 7, we were able to bring together our graduates, their families, and their loved ones for a celebration of their time at Ohio State.  As part of our evening together, Ryan Day, Ohio State’s football coach, and Christina Day, his wife, served as our graduation speakers.  The Days are very involved in the Ohio State community and focus their efforts on the mental health of children.  You can read more about their On Our Sleeves work here.  On this night, they took turns providing our graduates advice on their future successes.  

Now, I know you’re reading this and thinking, what does this have to do with mentorship?  Let me get to that connection for you.  Christina and Ryan offered our graduates three tips of advice.  They encouraged everyone to find their team, people with whom they could surround themselves who would always be there for them, in the best of times and the worst.  They also encourage everyone to celebrate their successes, no matter how small and to live in those moments within one another.  But their first piece of advice was that you needed to find yourself a good coach.  Now, of course a head football coach would encourage you to find a coach yourself, but their worlds were deeper than that.  Coach Day talked about how many times he had been fired from jobs (more than he could remember).  He talked about Christina, his children and himself having to move over 10 times in a 15-year time span to explore different positions and opportunities.  All along that path, having people in his life to whom he could outreach, ask for advice and seek reassurance when times were at the toughest was crucial to his family finding success.  These “coaches” or “mentors”, would always be honest and transparent with you, telling you what you needed to hear, not what you wanted to hear.  But they would always be there for you, especially when times were their toughest.  Coach Day viewed these “coaches” as critical to whom he had become today.  

I realize there are some differences between coaching and mentoring and Coach Day was talking a little about both.  Regardless, the research is out there on the importance of mentoring in our careers.  If you just Google “importance of a mentor” you’ll get hundred of hits from website, find TedTalks and see YouTube videos emphasizing this point.  AHEPPP is here to help.  As you may know, AHEPPP sponsors a mentor and mentee program for our members.  I have participated myself in the past as a mentor and have found the experience to be tremendously rewarding.  It is a great way to meet other professionals in a more intimate setting while gaining knowledge and resources from someone to who you can outreach with questions.  I enjoyed the structure the program provided for our conversations while allowing flexibility in what a mentor and mentee were seeking individually.  Not sure what to do with family weekend?  Contact your mentor/mentee.  Looking for some career advice or an outside perspective on a situation at work?  Contact your mentor or mentee.  The opportunities and benefits are unlimited.    

With this application now open, I encourage you to consider getting involved.  As the mentor and mentee relationship is so mutually beneficial, you don’t have to have years and years of experience to be a mentor.  With so many early career professionals within our ranks at AHEPPP, serving in either role gives back to our profession and continues to expand the support we provide to families in our campuses.  I know our lives and work can be so busy but taking some time each month to develop your mentor relationship can be so beneficial in the long term.

Ryan Lovell is an Associate Dean of Students at Ohio State University and the AHEPPP Board of Directors Treasurer. 

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