The benefits of mentoring have been recognized by leading researches and are gradually being recognized worldwide through various leading edge institutions as a means of energizing and developing youth. Underlying this trend is the widely held belief that a supportive relationship between a young person and an older non-parental figure, whether established via formal programs or informal connections, represents an asset for personal and professional development in youth, especially cultural and economically disadvantaged youth.

What is mentoring?

Mentoring is defined in the American Heritage on the English Language as a wise and trusted counselor or teacher to another person especially in occupational settings. Other defining aspects of mentoring are that it is a voluntary and collaborative relationship based on mutual interest geared to the development of the youth.

What do mentors do?

-provide guidance on personal and professional matters;
-provide guidance on personal and professional goal setting;
-recommend safe and creative learning opportunities;
-transfer best practices, knowledge and experience;
-provide feedback on strengths and areas for development;
-provide positive influences

What makes a good mentor?

-Someone who enjoys helping others;
-Someone who is supportive, encouraging and caring
-Someone who is open-minded, focused, positive and inspiring;
-Someone who is available, flexible and reliable;
-Someone who has very good communications and listening skills;
-Someone who stimulates the student's thinking and reflection;
-Someone the mentee respect and admire;
-Someone who with similar interest and goals

How does mentoring benefit the mentor?

-making a difference in someone’s life
-making positive contributions to someone’s development;
-enhancement of leadership skills;
-opportunity to share experiences and knowledge amassed; and
-reflection and development of career skills

How does mentoring benefit the mentee?

-increases personal and career knowledge and awareness;
-provides a safe, creative and nurturing environment to develop;
-provides opportunities for learning and enhancing understanding;
-provides opportunities to develop new skills, knowledge and abilities to grow;
-stimulates thinking about potential future options and goals.

The mentoring process is an opportunity for both the mentor and the mentee to develop personally and or professionally. If done well, this mutually collaborative relationship can prove to be a motivational and inspiring venture where both parties can mutually benefit from new skills and knowledge that will allow them to grow in a positive and encouraging environment.

Author's Bio: 

Sharon Auguste is a graduate of Social Work, Sociology and Political Science. Sharon is the Group Program Coordinator for Women Empowering Girls and a Life Coach and Career Mentor for Get Your Groove Back.