Mentoring is more than the transfer of advice, experience, insights and information. The mentor/mentee relationship offers reciprocal benefits for mentors willing to invest their time in developing another professional. Mentoring relationships are a mutual opportunity for learning and growth.
Many mentors say that the rewards they gain are as substantial as those for their mentees, and that mentoring has enabled them to:
Be recognized as a subject matter expert and leader
Achieve personal growth and learn more about themselves
Gain a better understanding of other cultures
Develop personal leadership and coaching style
Develop a greater appreciation for diversity
Reflect on personal successes, professional goals and best practices
Feel more productive and have a better attitude at work
Be exposed to fresh perspectives, ideas and approaches
Above all, a good mentor is willing to take the time to get to know their mentee, to learn new things that are important to their mentee, and even to be changed by their relationship.
Mentors say that they gain many rewards from the experience and the mentor/mentee relationship. Most of us have had a teacher, supervisor or coach who has been a mentor to us and made a positive difference in our lives.
Mentors often wear many hats, acting as delegators, role models, policy enforcers, advocates, and friends. Mentors assume these different roles during the course of a relationship, and share some basic qualities:
A sincere desire to be involved with a mentee
Empathy and concern
Respect for young people
Active listening skills
Ability to see solutions and opportunities
Mentoring is a selfless contribution that creates enduring value for our programs and participants. Our goal is not only to train, but we also aim to network our participants into the business community. We believe networking is critical to their success. For this reason, we are constantly seeking people who are willing to share their experiences, knowledge and connections with our participants.
Upon acceptance into the Professional Program, participants are matched with mentors who compliment their personality, interests, and field of interest. Each Suits for Sons mentor agrees to support (mentor) the mentee through the duration of the program.
We’ve listed a few common concerns you may have. We understand that committing to mentor someone comes with a lot of responsibility and may feel like new territory. You may worry that you won’t know what to do. You may have more experience that you think. Have you ever given someone advice or helped someone work through a challenge? Have you ever given advice to a family member or a friend?
By joining this mentoring program, you are simply formalizing your commitment to help develop another person. You commit to sharing your life experiences, lessons learned and best practices to help someone else achieve success.
WHAT IF WE DON'T MAKE A CONNECTION RIGHT AWAY?
It’s not easy to trust a stranger. It may take a while to build trust. Don’t interpret caution as rejection. Your mentee may not show it — in fact, he may not even know it fully — but your help is definitely wanted. Don’t withdraw. Keep sharing. It will all pay off in the end.
WHAT IF WE FIND THAT WE DON'T HAVE MUCH IN COMMON?
Initially, there will likely be differences in age, race, religion, education or gender identification. However, these are not insurmountable barriers. Actually, experienced mentors often report that mentoring a person from a different background broadened their own horizons and deepened their understanding of other people and cultures. Don’t rush to conclusions. Your commonalities will surface as you both invest time in the mentor/mentee relationship.
WHAT IF MY MENTEE SHARES SOMETHING SERIOUS WITH ME?
It is common for mentoring relationships to develop and thrive without any major challenges, but some times things happen that raise concerns. As a mentor, you have a very important role that takes on many responsibilities. However, you are not expected to provide family counseling, medical or psychological treatment. There are professionals who are trained and qualified to provide these services. Contact your Suits for Sons volunteer staff if you need assistance guiding your mentee to the appropriate source of professional help.
WHAT IF I MAKE A MISTAKE?
No one is perfect. Just be there for your mentee. Listen and hear what’s being said. Do your best to counsel and not judge. Some people are more ready than others for a mentor. Some may even test your commitment. Try not to take this personally. Just keep giving it your best. If you have specific concerns, talk to your Suits for Sons staff.
WHAT IF MY AVAILABILITY FOR MENTORING CHANGES?
This is an understandable and very serious concern. Mentoring is a deep commitment. However, things happen that are outside of your control.
Life happens to all of us. You may experience changes like a job relocation, sickness or a change in schedule. Unless the circumstance is absolutely unavoidable, It’s best to stay in your mentoring relationship and make good on your commitment. However, if you must withdraw from the mentoring relationship, notify your Suits for Sons staff right away.
HOW MUCH TIME IS INVOLVED?
Mentors can expect to spend about 3 – 4 hours each month meeting with their mentees. Mentors are also invited to attend Suits for Sons events.
WHAT QUALIFICATIONS ARE REQUIRED TO BE MENTORS?
The ideal mentor would have more than 10 years of progressive experience in a professional field or have been involved in a startup and have entrepreneurial experience. You should also desire to make a positive difference in developing a future professional.
HOW DO YOU MATCH PARTICIPANTS WITH MENTORS?
Mentors and mentees are matched on a case-by-case basis. Both the mentors and mentees wishes are taken into consideration. While there are no guarantees, we usually try to create equilibrium of personality, interest, and opportunity.
WHAT IF THE STUDENT AND I DON'T FIT?
It happens – not often; but it happens. This will be a mutually voluntary relationship. In such cases, either the mentor or the mentee can terminate the mentoring experience. We do our best to avoid these situations, but when it happens, we are committed to trying again to find the right fit.