Mentors: Who are they, and why do we need them?

In a nowadays busy world, a lot of people hire mentors or people who guide them throughout their way and help to manage their work and time. We have gone in detail on this topic by interviewing Michael Kouchakdjian, Ph.D. Professor at AUA College of Business and Economics teaching Management and Entrepreneurship. 

Mr. Kouchakdjian, how would you define the word “mentor”?

Mentoring is a very important notion, and it can be defined flexibly. Many people think of mentors as someone who provides professional and career support. However, my definition of a mentor is broader. It is a more holistic notion that covers many additional aspects of life and development. A mentor facilitates the transfer of information, knowledge, experience, and wisdom between people and between generations – from teacher to pupil, from a parent or other family member to child, from boss or co-worker to employee, etc. 

And so, one can say, that it is a way for a more knowledgeable and experienced person to guide the other one, who is less knowledgeable and experienced. 

What role do mentors play in people’s lives? What’s their importance?

The impact of a mentor can be far-reaching and consequential as they can help guide personal growth, professional growth, and share contacts and networks – open doors, and confer opportunity. 

Mentors can help accelerate, stimulate, or even revive goals, motivation, and enthusiasm. Mentorship is good to have. One can succeed without it, but good mentorship can provide more.

Does everybody need a mentor? 

It is often difficult to get good mentorship: it takes effort for the mentor. Also, the personal chemistry between the mentor and mentee is important. Like any relationship, both sides need to invest in it and nurture it, which is not easily achieved. So, I believe everyone can benefit from a mentor. It is desirable to have one, but many people often are not able to.

In which fields we need the mentors most?

Mentors are often associated with professional development, career progression, and advancement. However, as I mentioned earlier, a good mentor can provide so much more. I think about it more broadly, more holistically. So mentors can help in specific areas or with life in general.

 How can one become a mentor? 

Mentors need to have knowledge, experience, and wisdom with the desire and patience to want to share it. Some people have a passion for sharing what they know. Some people are kind, thoughtful, and magnanimous. These are the best mentors, the best teachers, the best guides.

  Is it possible to become a self-mentor (a mentor for yourself)?

It is not easy to find a mentor, let alone find a good mentor. The connection comes from interaction: from talking, sharing, connecting to what you develop, and the chemistry between them. 

It is something that both sides – mentor and mentee – need to pursue, need to search for, but it can also happen by itself through people, somehow, effortlessly connecting. There is no established formula.  

Where can people (especially the young generation) find good mentors?

For the young generation, I suggest looking for people – at work, in the classroom, in a social circle – that seems to take an interest in you. And then make an effort to get to know them, to communicate with them, and eventually build a relationship with them. It takes time and effort.  

 Last but not least, would you tell us about your project “EPIC”? How did you get inspiration from to start it?

EPIC is a place for people who want to do new things, broaden their horizons, and pursue their dreams. EPIC has numerous programs and activities that help people to grow, learn about themselves, and to pursue areas and activities that are new to them. We encourage people to take risks, try something new, and explore outside their comfort zones.

 How will participation in “EPIC” change young people’s lives?

Everything we do at AUA and EPIC is focused on changing people’s lives. This is a role that educational institutions and universities play in societies. AUA is especially an attractive place for this, since you have very motivated, passionate people from very diverse backgrounds and experiences interacting with one another. That is what makes universities into such amazing places. And at AUA, we try to emphasize that there is so much more than you can learn above going to class, reading a textbook, and absorbing content.

Written by Nellie Melkonyan