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What does it mean to be a mentor? It means you have the opportunity to share your knowledge and experience with someone who could highly benefit from what you’ve learned over the years. It means you have a very important task to help guide someone who is in your shoes from several years ago, and you get to share your experiences, wisdom, insights, wins, and losses with someone who is interested and excited in following in your footsteps. They’ll hang on every word you say, so there is a great responsibility that comes with being a mentor, especially when it pertains to the construction industry and the many intricate facets of it.

Mentoring students on the ins-and-outs of the construction industry truly allows students to acquire the general understanding of what roles and responsibilities a career in the industry could entail. Programs, such as the ACE Mentor Program of Greater Boston, are accessible to prospective high school students with an interest in pursuing a career in the architecture, construction and engineering industries, where they can receive hands-on experience through interaction with industry experts and exposure to a variety of career paths. Mentors provide the tangible experience that a textbook simply cannot as they guide impressionable students through the daily routine of a seasoned industry operative.

Mentees get a better understanding of how the built environment they see all around them in their daily lives is executed. They learn from their mentors—who are actively involved in their company’s project development—about the overall process of the construction of a building, including other variables involved such as stakeholders, costs, schedule and planning. The students learn first-hand how large the industry is as a whole, as mentors work in varying roles in the industry and provide students with an understanding of an array of career options, including skilled trades, subcontractors, general contractors, developers, architects and engineers, to name a few.

Through interactive learning, students are able to develop relationships with necessary personnel that provide tangible experiences for the students, such as visiting an active construction site. The onsite visit is a huge asset to a student who is being mentored by a professional. They can now take what they have learned and physically see how it is applied in a real-life setting. The visit also allows the student to interact with their mentor regarding specific elements of the jobsite that they may want to learn more about.

In addition, the mentor program hosts events where students can not only engage with more industry experts but also showcase projects they have been working on—and receive feedback from enriching professionals.

Developing a strong mentor-student relationship is one of the most beneficial professional relationships for a student to have as they plan to enter the real world. Mentors serve as brand ambassadors for their respective firms; having the ability to ask questions, learn from—and engage with—a construction professional at such an impressionable age weighs heavily on a students’ potential career plans. Beyond the education they receive from a mentor, they receive the necessary guidance and support that offers students unparalleled access to experts for career, educational and life conversations that may not otherwise be available to them.

For a student aspiring to pursue a career in the construction industry, a mentor is almost a necessity, especially for students who attend a private or public high school. Unlike a technical high school, the general education curriculum does not provide a student with the necessary tools of the trade to fully succeed in the industry, and that is when having a mentor becomes of utmost importance.

After a few weeks of working alongside a mentor in the industry, a student gains knowledge and confidence in making a decision on the direction of their career. And on a professional level, it makes all the effort worth it when a student who was mentored goes onto further their education in construction and ends up becoming a peer to the mentor.

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