There are many young people that do not have someone to look up to, someone to guide them through the difficulties that transpire in life, or simply someone to talk to. Tasks such as studying for a test, applying for college, or taking a loan out for a car may seem fairly straightforward to adults that have been through the process but could be very confusing for a young person. According to Mentor, 1 in 3 young people will grow up without a mentor, essentially leaving them disconnected from a vital resource to combat day-to-day challenges. Mentoring guarantees that a young person has someone that supports and cares about them, and assures them they are not alone in dealing with these issues.
Growing up, most of us have had a teacher, coach, supervisor – someone that was a mentor to us and had a significant positive impact on our lives. Those individuals assumed a variety of different roles for us: delegators, role models, policy enforcers, cheerleaders, supporters, and friends. Becoming a mentor requires assuming these different roles during the course of the relationship, many times all in one day.
A good mentor will possess a few basic qualities in addition to the ability to assume multiple roles. A good mentor is sincere and genuinely wants to be involved in a young person’s life. They have respect for the young person and actively listen and show empathy. Good mentors are also flexible and are able to see solutions for problems and provide opportunities as they arise.
If you have decided that you would like to take the important steps of becoming a mentor and having a positive impact on a young person’s life, make sure you do your research. Each mentoring situation is different, and it is crucial that you are able to think about and identify your own interests and needs. It will most likely take some time and thought of which mentoring program you would like to be a part of, but there is something for everyone. To help you decide, make note of the time commitment you are able to make, the age group you would like to work with, if you would like to work with one child or a group of children, the location you would prefer and the type of activities you are interested in so you can ensure you are actively contributing to the young person’s needs (i.e. school work, friendship, learning a new skill).
Once you have a good idea of how you would like to contribute to a mentoring program, find the right one for you. Since you are making a substantial commitment, be thorough when researching programs and option before you choose. Choose a few programs and talk to each organization’s volunteer organizer. Ask about the matching process and the different mentoring options offered. Learn about the training and the application process.
Every program is different and it can be discouraging if the first program you select does not match your needs or vice versa. However, there are many programs available and you should try, try again!