I’m Gonna Be a Mentor!

I’m gonna be a mentor everybody! 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!

Would you like to be a mentor or have you been a mentor before? What advice would you give to a grade 12 mentee about to embark on their journey into adulthood?

(Image: mzacha)


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  • 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 😀

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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!

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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!

  • 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.

  • 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!

  • 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.

  • 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!

  • 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.

  • 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!

  • 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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