I’m Gonna Be a Mentor!

| November 19, 2012 | 77 Comments

This Saturday I had my mentor orientation at the YWCA, and I’ve got to say, I’m even more excited to be participating in this now that I know a bit more about the program. I originally heard about the YWCA mentorship program through my mom who works at a high school. She knew the program was looking for more mentors and suggested that my older sister and I sign up since we are both in our twenties and professionals.

I know it sounds silly, but I can’t help but feel a little weird being considered a “professional”. I’m not a doctor, lawyer, or science researcher. I’m an assistant at the very beginning of my career, and most of the time I just feel like I’m fakin’ it til I make it. I know I’m 26 (cat’s out of the bag!) and that means I’m an adult and all, but I still remember high school and university like it was yesterday. Maybe I’m just having a bit of trouble accepting that I’m getting older, but the reality is I’ve been out of school for over three years now. Even though I still feel like a newbie at this whole living-on-my-own-supporting-myself-responsible-adult-situation, I can’t deny that I’ve learned a lot over the years and I can’t wait to share some of my wisdom with an eager, ambitious young girl who sounds a lot like me when I was her age.

We get to meet for the first time this weekend, then we meet at least once a month until the end of June. It’s a pretty ideal schedule as far as volunteering goes, plus I won’t just be working the bar at some gala to get some festival pass in exchange for all my hours (which I’m not knocking because I’ve done it and it was super fun). Being a volunteer mentor means that I will actually, first-hand, be able to help and impact someone else’s life for the better. More specifically, I get to help them become better prepared for their transition into post-secondary, which I can attest to being a pretty daunting and stressful experience. I owe a lot to my older sister who helped me out when I was making that transition, and I’ve tried my best at paying it forward to my younger sister too. I’m definitely looking forward to these next 8 months, and if anyone has any suggestions for activities I could do with my mentee, please let me know!

Have you ever been a mentor before? What advice would you give to a grade 12 mentee about to embark on their journey into adulthood?

-Mo’ Houses out!

(Image: mzacha/rgbstock)

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Category: Giving Back, Lifestyle

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  1. holly says:

    I have a problematic knee, but I love running! It is truly free exercise and you can do it in almost any weather if you’re hardcore enough. I really need to get my a$$ out there too. =)
    Good job!

  2. Running is one of my addictions =) But I didn’t start running remotely seriously until 5-6 years ago. Now I can’t seem to get enough. Keep up the good work – your heart will thank you for it later.

  3. Michelle says:

    I prefer running outside! Running on a treadmill i just so boring.

  4. John S @ Frugal Rules says:

    We have an exercise bike that we like to use in our basement. That way we can exercise no matter what it’s like outside. We also do things like walking and working in the yard. Doing stairs is also another great thing to do and is free.

  5. MyCanuckBuck says:

    We have a treadmill, as well as a gym membership. So, not really on the cheap. :) I really should drop the gym membership – I’m getting bored with it and less and less motivated to go.

  6. I used to hate running too. What got me running was that 4 years ago I took a volleyball specific jump training class, and the coach was kind of a dick and used to make us run these thing around the track which really made the slowest runner (me) stick out. I actually had to compete against a girl who ran professionally. After that class ended I continued to run-almost all on the beach to protect my legs and knees. Eventually you find joy in it. It’s weird that way. I think there are a lot of ways to exercise for cheap, but sometimes, depending on the person, investing a little isn’t a bad idea. I just signed up for 5 sessions with a persona trainer (for $40/session) and I really needed that jump start again, and needed to rehab my shoulder.

    • I do agree that investing any money into your health and fitness is certainly an investment. I just hate gyms really, though I’ve always been curious about maybe getting a personal trainer just so I can find out what I need to specifically do and work on to get into the shape I want to.

  7. I started running thisd past year but didnt find it cheap at all. between running shoes, custom soles, and signing up for half marathons, it was actually pretty expensive. however, i recently started biking to work, and besides the initial cost of the bike (which my company gave me $250 to purchase), it’s turned out to be pretty cheap! I am also looving biking to work and getting my exercise!

    • I’ve got friends who love biking, including my BF. That’s true, if you don’t already have some running gear and shoes then running might not be super cheap. The only thing I had to buy was a running sweatshirt/jacket but it was only $30 for a nice adidas one at Winners. I’ve had my shoes for a while but I’ve sadly barely used them.

  8. DebtsnTaxes says:

    I’m not a huge fan of running but I know it’s good for me. We have snow on the ground right now so running outside is probably out of the question til next April. We are going to be buying a treadmill pretty soon here and we already own a crapton of weights and equipment. It can be expensive to purchase but in the long run is cheaper. I hate having to drive to work out so owning my own equipment is a must. The treadmill will be a great buy and help me train for the tough mudder I’m going to do next year.

    • My parents just got a treadmill not too long ago and they love it. Ya I guess where I live since we rarely get snow just a bunch of rain, running isn’t such a hassle, but I’d probably work out more inside my home if there was snow on the ground.

  9. Jordann says:

    I love running! I’ve been running with my dog Molly, and it’s really great to have such an enthusiastic running partner. I took a bit of a break from running this summer but I’m back at it these past few weeks and I must say I really missed putting on all my old gear and getting out there for a good workout. If you ever want to chat about techniques or anything like that just send me a message.

  10. CanadianBudgetBinder says:

    I run and walk every day and go to the gym with my mates. If I can’t make it I have a set up in my basement with a treadmill, weights, bike, gazelle, mats, and a bunch of other stuff. You are right though once you start and you see change and feel good it’s hard to stop. Keep at it… Cheers Mr.CBB

  11. Good effort! I have a free gym at work which is great but also love to cycle for fitness. I really don’t enjoy running… I just get bored! :P

  12. OutlierModel says:

    I’m not big on running except on select breezy days in the spring and fall. ;) I do agree that gym memberships are generally too expensive unless you spend a lot of time there. I’m fortunate – my current workplace has a free gym and yoga studio, so I think I’m going to be taking advantage of it!

  13. Good luck! I don’t like running very much, for cheap exercise I love my bicycle, I cycle almost everywhere, used to roller skate too. And I swim at the local pool or in lakes. I like outdoors activities much more than the gym, going to a park is free, you can walk and exercise in a nice setting. Or run!

  14. Janine says:

    My boyfriend and I have been talking about starting to run… who knows when we will get around to it….. hopefully soon!

  15. eemusings (NZMuse) says:

    Yup, running is my thing and my only thing!

    I actually really like touch rugby but it’s not a big sport. My office recently started up a team but I chickened out as I was too afraid of being bowled by all the big burly guys.

    • Omg if my work had a rugby team I would totally join! Though I prefer the tackling sort of rugby, there’s nothing like it! But that’s true, I decided to stop after high school because all the girls that played were just enormous!

  16. JennaL says:

    Congratulations, Mo’, on establishing a running routine. That is simply awesome, and it sounds like a perfect stress relief. Yoga at the moment is my savior.

  17. Glen @ Monster Piggy Bank says:

    It’s not all great being “gangly-legged” i’m 6″4 and still can’t run :(

    Good work on getting into a fitness routine, I’m sure you will start seeing the benefits soon.

  18. femmefrugality says:

    You got rated on how many laps you could do? That seems so wrong! I used to be a running champ. Alas, now I’m unmotivated and could use some cardio.

  19. Lady – this is the post I’ve been looking for. I’ve been thinking a lot about getting back into running versus joining a gym. I think a little winter running gear would get me much farther than a gym membership in TO. I miss having recreation centres with cheap gyms close by :(

  20. Great posting!! I too don’t want to be one of those more mature folks who looks and feels “old”! It is a choice and good health can help you live your life to the fullest!

    Thanks for sharing!!

  21. Country Girl says:

    I’m a beginner runner too – I started actively going for runs this fall. I’ve found it really hard to get into though, especially since the weather is less than ideal and I don’t like running in the dark. I’m trying to go for jogs at lunch at the local Y where there’s a track around the ice rink. Hopefully it keeps me motivated!

  22. Michelle says:

    That’s great! When I was in high school, I was an elementary school mentor. It was a great experience.

  23. Liquid_Independence says:

    Mentoring is fun, because you get to connect with someone else on a more personal level than just teaching a class or something. I’ve only done mentoring a few times helping undergrads with their design portfolios. My job was basically to help them get a job after graduating, but to make things more interesting I often showed them movies, and paintings, and tell them about things they don’t teach enough at school (like email programs, ERPs, management skills, salary expectations, etc) to get them more inspired about working in the career. I would have even taken them to my full time job to see some of the tablets, displays, and equipment we use, but unfortunately my studio didn’t allow it :0( Nevertheless, there are tons of other ways to help those kids transition into adult life. You must be eating all your vegetables because you don’t look a day past 21 :D

  24. Yes, I was a mentor when I was around 25 for this 13 year old boy. I was also a coach for Girls on the Run last spring. The best advice I can give is to learn good listening skills. The biggest part of being a mentor is letting them figure out answers to their problems…you are just helping facilitate that by asking the right questions and listening. The mentor training I got was an invaluable skill for life in general.

  25. Oohh, that’s so awesome! Liquid Independence has some awesome suggestions. My friend has a Little Sister and it’s amazing what they are both able to get out of it. Hopefully you can bond with the person and be “real.” I’d talk to them about their thoughts about university, money management, career paths when they’re done, how to use excel, ways to give back/pay it forward, ways to get exercise/stay healthy once you’re on a more flexible schedule like university… :-) Best of luck! I don’t know any good books off the top of my head, but I know there are some awesome ones out there about mentoring.

  26. MyCanuckBuck says:

    Hope it goes well. I’ve never been a mentor, but I’ve had them. I think the best thing you can do is just answer their questions and give them the benefit of your experience. Tell them it’s okay to feel scared and lost some times as they transition! :)

    • Good tips. That’s one of the things I am really thankful to my older sister for, because I was pretty much scared sh**less when I started uni, but she let me know it was totally normal and it would get better, and it did!

  27. OutlierModel says:

    I actually just signed up to be a mentor as well! I’m meeting my person (mentee?) this coming weekend. I’m doing mine through my university’s mentorship program, so I’m paired with a student who studied the same thing that I did in school.

  28. eemusings (NZMuse) says:

    Hurrah! So excited for you.

    I’m not in a place where I can commit to mentoring, but I hope to do so within the next few years. I wonder if the YWCA does that here or if I’ll have to seek out another organisation.

    Know what you mean about not feeling that grown up. When we have interns in and they ask my advice, I feel a mix of amazement that they want to listen to what I have to say, and amazement that I actually do have SOME useful thoughts to offer.

  29. Kim@Eyesonthedollar says:

    When I was in college, I was a Big Sister for the Big Brothers/ Big Sisters program where they matched me with a ten year old girl who needed some extra positive attention. We got together once a week and went to the movies or baked cookies. Not really the same as a high schooler, but I would just try to hang out and talk and see what your mentee is interested in. I bet once you get to know her, she will have all kinds of questions.

  30. holly says:

    I love that saying “fake it til you make it.” I swear I feel that way every day in every aspect of my life. Sometimes I feel like the real “grown-ups” are going to show up one day and take everything over for me!
    Good job on the mentoring. That sounds awesome!

  31. Sounds exciting! I’ve never been a mentor, but one piece of advice I would give to any young individual is to “ask many questions”. As a young adult I was always afraid to ask questions – and without a question there is no answer. Maybe encourage them to not be afraid to ask questions about absolutely anything it may be.

  32. Wow that’s cool. I used to tutor a bunch of local high school kids. One group was for money and I got paid well, but the other which I found much more rewarding was volunteer for kids at a charter school who were way more fun to tutor!

  33. Jordann says:

    Ooph that’s a big responsibility! My fiancé and I played Big Brother and Big Sister to a little brother while we were in University, but it wasn’t the best situation. I think you’ll be an excellent mentor and be able to provide practical advice on getting ahead in this crazy world.

  34. Savvy Scot says:

    I always read your blog at work and can never comment!! Congrats on the new status… It will be a great opportunity to pass on some of your wisdom and be a role model :) You will do great

    • Dude, I don’t know what to tell ya. I’m sticking with Disqus, because this is a tumblr blog and there are definitely some limitations. Maybe sometime in 2013 I’ll switch over to wordpress and it will be easier. Thanks for still comennting though!

  35. Country Girl says:

    Good for you! Sounds like a great experience, both for you and whomever you mentor. For the last couple years, I’ve been a career mentor at a girls’ career camp. I always tell the girls to think about where they want to live, because there’s no sense picking a career that requires you to live in the city if you’re a country person at heart and vice versa.

  36. Cait Flanders says:

    Good for you! I recently submitted my application for the Big Sisters program in Toronto. Unfortunately, they aren’t looking for Big Sisters in my area… but I wanted to get my application in anyway. I should look into what the YMCA needs out here!

  37. This is so awesome. I can’t wait to hear how it goes!

  38. Shy says:

    I participated in this program when I was in high school and it really impacted my life for the better. Many of the girls who participate in this program do not have role models at home and are unaware of some of the education and career options that await them in the future. My mentor took me on a tour of her office and I ended up doing an internship there. It’s great that you are volunteering to be a mentor. I think just having a professional person to talk to makes a huge difference.

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