Research Report on How College Students can Find Their Calling: Jump into Insight Experiences and Connect with a Mentor

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What’s your calling?”

This is a question many of us are asked and if we don’t yet know the answer… well, picture a red alert, flashing warning sign level panic! The word “calling” can be a very loaded and stressful word, especially since so many of us want to find ours but don’t actually know where to start. We all talk about the importance of fulfilling our calling, but there is far less discussion on how to actually do so. This leaves so many people aimlessly searching for their path.

I recently published a paper in the Journal of Career Development with Kyle Ehrhardt that explores the idea of callings – specifically, what precedes someone finding theirs. This paper has powerful implications for college students who are in pursuit of a career that is meaningful to them. We researched two factors that were ultimately proven to help students perceive their calling and are discussed in detail below: a high-quality mentoring relationship and insight experiences.

Finding a Mentor

How do you build a strong mentorship? As a mentoring researcher, I have curated some of the best tips to creating a healthy and mutually beneficial mentoring relationship, which can be found here. Finding a mentor may feel tricky or intimidating, however my Loyola Marymount University students now have a leg up. The Pride is the university’s newest initiative to support students. The Pride connects current Lions with alumni in order to create powerful and valuable mentoring relationships. As many of the nation’s universities approach an online semester, it will be even more important for students to stay on track by connecting with a mentor who can help them perceive their calling.

Finding Insight Experiences

Insight experiences require just as much intentionality. Insight experiences are defined in my paper “as life events or episodes that offer a moment of comprehension related to one’s career.” Such experiences include internships, community-based learning, international experiences, and more. While studying abroad is temporarily put on pause, other experiences are definitely doable in an online setting. Remote internships can be an incredible way to make inroads toward finding your calling. In addition, an online semester will allow students the opportunity to more conveniently attend academic club meetings or speaking engagements. Most universities have wonderful academic orgs, like Finance Societies or Marketing Societies, that will hold their meetings online this semester. These Zoom meetings can help a student learn what they like and don’t like.

Informational interviews are another really beneficial way to learn more about what career you are called to. In an informational interview, you can ask someone questions about their current job, their career path, or for advice. More details about informational interviews can be found here.

For any university student wondering how they can take control of their career path and discover what is calling them, consider the power of mentorships and insight experiences. Even though your semester may be online, you still have the power to further your career and discover what you want!

To read the entire research article: