January is National Mentoring Month, and there are many reasons to celebrate. Take a few minutes to thank the mentors that have made a difference in your life, and reflect on what you can do to pass along the wisdom and life lessons to youth in your community.

The benefits of being a mentee.

I’ve been lucky enough to have benefited from multiple mentors throughout my life. In both high school and college, I was drawn to a few teachers who exhibited the charisma, intelligence, compassion, and quirks I admired. I had the opportunity to take several classes with these teachers and work with them in other capacities, as well, such as student organizations and a work-study job.

They weren’t only great teachers but also great people. They pushed me in the right direction but still let me make mistakes so I could learn from those mistakes. The informal mentoring they provided, both inside and outside of the classroom, was just what I needed as a young adult finding my way in the world.

The pleasure of serving as a mentor.

On the other side of the relationship, I’ve had the pleasure of serving as a mentor to youth in my life and community. In college, I volunteered to be a Big Sister for the Big Brothers Big Sisters program, and it was very fulfilling to see my Little Sister grow and mature and to know I played a role in shaping her life.  But you don’t have to join a formal mentoring program to make a difference.

My mom runs a home daycare, and she’s had lots of children of all ages come through over the years. As I got older, I enjoyed helping my mom with the children and formed lasting relationships with a few of the ones who stuck around for a while. I consider two of them to be my younger sisters, and I know they’re just as grateful to have me in their lives as I am to have them in mine.

Being a youth mentor doesn’t require any special skills.

If you’re willing to practice patience, empathy, and respect and have a bit of your time to give, you can be a youth mentor and make a difference in the life of a young person. According to a study commissioned by MENTOR: The National Mentoring Partnership, young people with a mentor are more likely to do well in school and at work and have higher levels of social, emotional, and behavioral development than young people without a mentor. The Interagency Working Group on Youth Programs website also identifies the following benefits for youth involved in a mentoring program:

  • Increased high school graduation rates.
  • Higher college enrollment rates.
  • Enhanced self-esteem and self-confidence.
  • Improved interpersonal skills.
  • Improved behavior, both at home and at school.

I encourage you to consider being a youth mentor, whether it be through a formal mentoring program or just reaching out to the young people in your life. It can be a very rewarding experience on both sides of the relationship.

  1. featured

About The Author

Jessica Fearington

Jessica Fearington is a client engagement specialist for Kuder. As a Kuder Career Planning System® expert, she delivers online training and technical support for clients in education, counseling, and workforce settings. Prior to joining Kuder in 2017, Jessica served as an academic technology ... read more

Stay Connected

Get the latest news and updates from Kuder delivered straight to your inbox

We use cookies to improve your online experience. Learn more by reviewing our privacy policy. I agree