Being a student mentor offers a range of benefits for both you and your mentee. You will be able to show more young people the benefits of your industry, and help them to understand how to become a part of it. Through this, you will develop a more diverse future workforce.
The mentee will gain a career role-model, somebody who understands the job market from first hand experience. You will be able to help them understand what it is they want to do, and how to go about doing it. Even the experiences which you see as common or unimportant will be able to help them in their journey to a fulfilling career.
Developing a Successful Relationship:
It is hugely important that, if you decide to mentor a young person that you are committed to it. Unlike a work experience or shadowing programme, mentoring is a personal, relationship. Your advice is given one-to-one and you may be the only person in your mentee's life who can properly advise them on certain issues, therefore you cannot let them down.
Having said this, there are various tiers to a mentoring relationship. You could merely put forward your advice for one particular job application or provide them with practical advice on CVs and interviews for example. Or you could put yourself forward for a more personal relationship where you help them search for jobs, understand what it is they want to do and link them up with your personal contacts.
However profound you want your relationship to be, it is necessary to communicate this to your mentee. You need to manage their expectations, let them know what you are there to help with and how often you will be in contact, and then stick by this commitment. Make sure you do not try and address issues that you are not qualified to deal with, for example mental health or legal concerns. Instead act as a signpost, guiding your mentee to the help they need.
It is useful to begin your relationship with a face-to-face meeting, in which you can each discuss your hopes for the relationship. Following that, communication by telephone or email may be sufficient but it is important that it remains constant, to a degree. It is also important that both parties continually evaluate the relationship. This will help you to ensure that both you and your mentee are gaining as much as possible from the process.
How to Become a Mentor:
If you are interested in becoming a mentor for young people, there are a few different avenues you could explore. As with work experience or shadowing programmes, you could contact your local schools or colleges directly and see if they are looking for mentors. Similarly, you could get in contact with your old school or university as many of these run alumni mentoring networks.
Often specific industries also run mentoring programmes, in order to encourage a more diverse workforce in the future, so you could also sign up with one of these. Finally, if you are having trouble finding a suitable mentee, you could sign up to the Eluceo network and let us put you in contact with the right students.