If you want to give back to your local community, consider being a mentor. You will gain the personal satisfaction of helping others improve their lives and develop your own professional skills in the process.
That’s why I volunteer for The Fund for American Studies (TFAS) Mentor Program. TFAS offers students the opportunity for a well-rounded Washington Experience as they intern in the city. Students are matched with professionals who can advise them on their careers and aid them in expanding their networks.
It is an extremely gratifying experience, and I have learned a lot about myself along the way.
Mentors provide guidance, advice, support, and knowledge to help positively influence someone’s personal and professional development. They are enthusiastic about helping others achieve their goals but can also learn from their mentees.
In fact, Mentoring is actually more of a two-way street than you may initially expect. Being a mentor helps you develop your leadership skills, enhance your managerial and communication skills, develop patience, and introduce you to newer outlooks.
For example, Sun Microsystems, a technology company, found within their own organization:
- Both mentors and mentees were approximately 20% more likely to get a raise than people who did not participate in the mentoring program.
- 25% of mentees and 28% of mentors received a raise – versus only 5% of managers who were not mentors.
Everyone remembers the uncertainties of their early careers and the self-doubt about whether they were making the right choices. So why not help someone else and make their process more straightforward?
A good mentor should possess several essential skills or qualities, which include:
- Ability to Show Mutual Respect
- Be an Active Listener
- Provide Constructive Feedback
- Experience in Your Field
And finally, you should be comfortable admitting when you don’t know something but are eager to find their mentee an answer.
At the start of any mentoring opportunity, you will want to have a meeting to introduce yourself, set expectations, and establish the rules of the relationship. Make sure to think about the long and short-term goals of the experience and discover what the mentee hopes to achieve from the relationship.
Finally, encourage the mentee to be responsible for their own development. Emphasize that you are there to advise them and aid them in doing the work.
What are your thoughts on mentoring? Have you been a mentor or mentee? What was your experience?