Coming into college, you are faced with a lot of decisions to make. In an entirely new environment, you need to figure out which classes to take, what internships you might want to pursue, what to major in, whether you want to go to grad school, what opportunities interest you, and so much more!
Thankfully, though, you do not need to navigate all of this on your own. There are a host of friends, professors, advisors, and other mentors who are there to help you out. Something I have found particularly rewarding is getting to know various mentors throughout my time at Penn. I define a mentor as someone I go to for guidance. Who these mentors are and what I need help with has changed over the years.
Starting out, when most questions revolve around classes, majors, and navigating Penn, older students can be incredibly helpful to speak with. I met the people I speak to about these things through student organizations, class, and mentorship programs that a lot of clubs set up to help first-years and sophomores with exactly these types of questions. Now, as a junior, I really like being able to pay it forward and help out younger students.
As I transition into the latter half of my time in college, my questions tend to be more externally facing, such as trying to determine what type of grad school I want to go to, what I want to do after graduating, and whether a certain career path is of interest. It is incredibly helpful to speak to someone who has been in your shoes, and I find that the most common ways of meeting such mentors is through student organizations, official mentorship programs run by departments or clubs, and sometimes, career panels at which you follow up with the speaker.
Also, there are a host of other ways to meet mentors outside of these capacities, and it varies for everyone. Some of the other mentors I have found are through a trip I took during spring break and a work-study job. No two people have identical paths through Penn, and discovering your own journey and getting to meet the people who you build relationships with along the way is an incredibly rewarding part of the journey.