Whether you’re 25 or 65, you’ve likely acquired experience in something. It makes no difference if you’re a skilled poker player or an exquisite cupcake baker, sharing some of the things you’ve learned can have all kinds of hidden and not-so-hidden benefits.
In the “olden days,” I mentored a few young women who started out as receptionists in the law office I managed. I taught them how to answer the phone, take messages, recognize the voices of our biggest clients (before caller i.d.), and how to gather information. I sought to dispel the common and false perception that being a receptionist was a lowly, unimportant job. On the contrary, the receptionists I supervised did not lack intelligence, initiative, nor the desire to learn. They merely lacked law office experience. And guess what? They now have successful careers as paralegals, legal administrators, and attorneys, and I am very proud of their accomplishments.
There are many benefits to becoming a mentor. First and most obvious, it feels good to help others. And while you’re doing so, there are some less obvious perks. Experts say that mentors are significantly more likely to get promotions and raises than their non-mentoring colleagues. And while you’re providing guidance to someone else, you can be sure that your own expertise and leadership will improve. After all, what if your mentee asks you a question you can’t immediately answer? Do you simply change the subject, or do you hustle to obtain the information in order to pass it on?
Another benefit, particularly if you’re mentoring a millennial, is that you’re guaranteed to learn something in return. Technology, diversity, out of the box thinking, and the value of social media are just a few of the areas in which most millennials can teach the rest of us a thing or two. Learning something while you’re teaching something? What a concept!
If you’ve read this far and I’ve somehow (or somewhat) piqued your interest, you’re probably wondering what to do next, or specifically how to become a mentor. I am pleased to report that there are as many opportunities to mentor as there are mentees eager to learn from you. If you are a corporate employee, I’d suggest you start with your human resources department to see whether there is already a program in place. Also, see what your local colleges have to offer in terms of matching a student with a volunteer mentor. And, as always, the internet is a dandy place to start your journey. I was impressed with the website www.mentoring.org, and suggest you take a few minutes to see what you can glean. Regardless of which resources you choose, I urge you to take your time in order to find a good fit.
Whether you can spare no more than an hour or two a week, or a month, once you commit to the process, you’ll be amazed at how rewarding and satisfying it is.
At the end of the day, remember this about mentoring: THE LIFE YOU CHANGE COULD BE YOUR OWN!