January is National Mentoring Month. You can change lives by being a mentor or connecting children and adolescents with mentors in their community. The National Mentoring Month site has tons of information for getting connected as a mentor, finding mentoring programs, and spreading awareness about mentoring in your own backyard.
Here are some ways you can think outside of the box about connecting mentors and mentees.
Find Common Ground
Connecting students with mentors who share their interest is a great way to formally or informally start mentoring programs. If your school hosts after-school clubs or activities, try reaching out to high school or college students who share the same interest. At my school, the art teacher facilitates an art club where middle school students have a high school mentor to help them with their projects. In turn, the art teacher is able to serve as a mentor to the high school students.
Mentor for a Day
February 2 is National Groundhog Job Shadow Day. Serving as a site for job shadowing or connecting children and adolescents with job shadowing opportunities can create partnerships for future mentoring opportunities. This USA Today article gives lots of great tips about shadowing, including questions the shadowing student should ask during the job shadow. One day can make a positive impact while exposing students to their career of interest.
Mentors Aren’t Just for Kids!
Even adults can benefit from a mentoring relationship. In order to find a mentor for yourself or to be a mentor for someone else, start with organizations affiliated with your profession. Seek out people you admire or who are in the profession or position you are interested in pursuing. Ask if they would be willing to mentor you or meet with you on a regular basis about your goals and aspirations. Many connections and mentors can be made informally at conferences or networking events related to your field.
If you are in a college or university setting, help establish formal or informal mentoring programs to benefit students in your field. You can connect students to mentors within your university or professionals in the field.
In what ways do you connect children and adolescents to mentoring opportunities? What formal or informal mentoring do you receive?
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