What’s the one thing every 1L needs? Two months ago, I might’ve said, “Highlighters.” One month ago, I would’ve replied, “More time!” But today, I can confidently say that what every 1L really needs is a mentor.
I’d never had a mentor. I have had great professors and supervisors, but never anyone with whom I’d developed a personal relationship. So when I learned that my scholarship would pair me with student mentors, I was nervous. Would I need to bring my resume to our first meeting? Would this be like one long interview?
Since then, I’ve developed genuine connections with my mentors, and I’m so grateful to have them. I thought I’d share some tips that helped me make the most of my mentor-mentee relationships.
- Be open and honest. For me, Contracts is difficult. Very difficult. But the first few (or 10) times that Amelia, my 2L mentor, asked me how classes were going, I said, “Fine.” Then one day, I just told her the truth—that I was struggling. She gave me a supplement that had helped her the year before, and it’s already helped me tremendously. Mentors often have great advice, but they can only help if you are open about your needs.
- Take advantage of opportunities presented. One morning Brence, my 3L mentor, told me to stop by and meet his supervisor. I was hesitant, but I came and ultimately left with a job as a campus rep for BARBRI, a major bar review preparation company. If your mentors are anything like mine, they’re probably super-impressive people, but they also want to see you succeed, so don’t be afraid to step outside of your comfort zone. They’ve got your back.
- Make time for the relationship. This one sounds a bit cheesy, but it might actually be the most important. In law school, time is a precious commodity, and it’s tempting to think that you can’t possibly accommodate any fun outings. But the truth is, you can and you should! My mentors and I have attended professional events, but we’ve also gone to an open mic night at the Nuyorican, taken a wine and cheese class at Murray’s (it was amazing), and tried Korean fried chicken (also amazing).
If you make time to hang out with your mentors, they can really get to know you as a person. At the beginning of the semester, I mentioned my interest in public defense, and my mentor recently told me about a great summer internship opportunity. I’m getting ready to apply (wish me luck!), and I know I wouldn’t have learned about this opportunity without her.
By now, you’re probably wondering how to get an amazing mentor of your own. Many campus organizations including Christian Legal Fellowship, Law Women, and BALSA offer mentorship programs. Some orgs pair you with upperclassmen, while others match you with practicing attorneys. I’d encourage you to check these groups out once you get on campus.
With a mentor, I’m sure you’ll not only expand your professional circle but also make great friends. I definitely have.