Pay It Forward – The Value of Mentoring by Cindy Stradling CSP, CPC

If you’ve been lucky, you’ve had a mentor or two along the way, who has helped you to develop personally and professionally, and helped you to achieve your goals. Most successful people have had mentors at different times during their formative years and their careers, though not all serve in a formal capacity. A mentor is anyone who has given you guidance as you learned and grew in some area of your life.

As you consider your own achievements and goals for the future, it’s important to ensure that you pay it forward by being a mentor to others. Many professionals think this sounds like a good idea, but are less sure of how to accomplish it. Here are some ways to find people who could gain from having you as a mentor.

  • Talk to local high schools and colleges. Many schools have mentor programs that can match you to a young person who is studying your field of expertise.
  • Hire young people in your business. As you get to know young employees, you will often serve as a mentor to them as they learn business principles, including leadership skills, work ethic and business practices specific to your industry. When you have young people in your organization, you have the opportunity to mentor to them on a daily basis, and to really watch them grow personally and professionally.
  • Look around. Many times, you’ll find a person who could use a mentor when you’re least looking for one. Be open to young people who are struggling with learning to work, or just to fit into the adult world. You may have the greatest impact on a young person who is not in your field of work at all. Opportunities to mentor can come from hobbies, church work, or even getting to know your children’s friends.

It’s less important where you find a person to mentor or what type of mentoring you do. What’s really important is that you find time to give back to young people you encounter the same way your mentors have poured their expertise and experience into you. This might be some of the most rewarding work you ever do.