I’ve been hearing a lot about mentoring these days….Either my twitter timeline is full of facts by mentoring organizations, my friends are heading to mentor training or people are asking me how they can tap into mentoring. #TheWorldIsAGoodPlace
With all of these signposts, I just knew today was the day to talk about mentoring. *insert Man In The Mirror*
I first learned about mentoring in high school going through my Medical-Tech concentration; a pre-med preparatory program designed to expose high school students to the medical field. Yes, I was a gifted child. With guidance from Annarelly- or as we called her Annie-, I was set to become Dr. Johnson Cooper. The latter didn’t quite happen- obviously. BUT I gained a wealth of knowledge and support from Annie- an expert in the field of public health and all things diversity within the medical field. We remain in touch to this day. Hi Facebook.
My relationship with Annie helped me to understand that there would always be people throughout my career willing to lend a hand and show me the ropes. I would later learn that mentoring goes beyond the walls of the classroom and boardroom. Personal mentors have stopped me from doing some pretty crazy things. In retrospect, I thank them too. 🙂 So what would my life be like without mentors? I don’t want to imagine it.
Which brings me my next question: How can you become a change agent in a young person’s life?
You’ll never know until you offer yourself to make a difference.
Mentoring is nothing to take lightly; especially if you commit to mentoring youth from disadvantaged backgrounds. Another disappointment from you just reinforces what they already believe to be true about society: they don’t matter. Even further, neglecting a relationship with a younger professional leaves their professional growth at risk for increased challenges. If this sounds like a lot of pressure, it is. Don’t let it discourage you though….let it encourage you! Imagine what your life would be like if you didn’t have someone to guide you…. Right.
Now that I’ve graduated from mentee to mentor, I find I have to remind myself of the dedication it takes to keep my relationships strong. In fact, it hit me last week as I was talking to one of my mentees, I am starting to sound a lot like my personal and professional mentor, Myrtle J. *chuckle*
While the responsibility is great, I don’t want to screw it up. Here are a few pointers I use to mentor. Hopefully they will help you too!
- Create calendar reminders to call and check on your mentee
- Make time to get to know your mentee- e.g. pizza and movie dates, happy hour dates, etc.
- Support your mentees by attending their events, presentations, etc.
- Introduce your mentee to your networking organizations and/or core friends to help them build their networks
- Become a friend without getting too comfortable. (Think a half way point between parent and sibling)
- Don’t be too hard on yourself if you lose touch for a while, it happens. Just make sure you all get back in touch.
- Miscommunications and disagreements will happen, these are okay too. As your relationship grows closer, you will not see eye to eye. Always be the bigger person and dissolve the feud and extend the olive branch.
- Let your mentee make his/her own mistakes. The parent in you will want to save them but remember how you learned your best lessons…by falling- hard. Be there to support them on the up swing.
- Always be a pillar of encouragement!!!
To wrap things up, here are a few great organizations from coast to coast you can get involved with to become a mentor:
If these don’t work for you, start with the intern on your floor or with the young neighbor you see every day. Until next time….Yes, you know it, Hit your Dougies!