In my opinion, the role of any mentor is one of great significance and one which has impacted me greatly in my own career. But why is it so important?
Why the need?
In a modern age where an abundance of information, news, technology and media is quite literally at our fingertips, 24⁄7, we find ourselves raising the next generation in a world of competing ideologies. Exposing them to far more than any other generation has ever had to deal with (climate change, the digital revolution, war, terrorism, catastrophic politics and much more). All of these issues will be left to future generations to deal with, so is it any surprise that young people are looking for positive and real-life experience to help them navigate their future outside of the education system?
Starting out in the working world is daunting. There are so many choices to be made at a young age, so much competition out there for the same roles. Often this is exploited by industries (including the creative one) when organisations recruit staff through unpaid internships, safe in the knowledge that a number of young people will work for free just for the opportunity to get into an exciting industry. This is not only harmful to the people lucky enough to have a support system to facilitate them taking unpaid roles (no one should be expected to work for a long period of time with no financial remuneration) but critically, this pretty much shuts the door entirely on people from less financially affluent backgrounds.
Why is it important?
There are quite simply not enough opportunities for people who come from places of poverty, different backgrounds or have a disability. This needs to change. Alongside this, we also find ourselves in 2019 with women still being paid less than their male counterparts FOR THE SAME JOBS. How can anyone believe these things are acceptable? The difference is that now, through mentorship, we have the power and the ability to make a real difference to those problems and help people get the opportunities that they deserve.
Former First Lady and actual hero of mine, Michelle Obama said:
“When you’ve worked hard, and done well, and walked through that doorway of opportunity, you do not slam it shut behind you. You reach back, and you give other folks the same chances that helped you succeed.”
Real talk from a real legend.
Giving back and gaining in return
Anyone that has invested whole-heartedly in mentoring someone will probably agree that they gained just as much from the experience as their mentee did.
I have been lucky enough to be on both sides of that dynamic and will always be grateful to my mentor for looking past my age and gender. For working hard to build my confidence and for creating opportunities to fulfil my potential, all with the safety net of honest feedback and guidance along the way. Because of this, I promised myself that I would do the same if I got the opportunity and I hope the people I have mentored since have benefited from my help in some way.
Personally, it has been a very rewarding experience to see the individuals you put your time and effort into, work hard alongside you and then go on to do bigger and better things on their own. It gives you all of the happy feels! The hope is, that they then go on to help other people if they get the chance. Thus building a positive ‘paying it forward’ movement, insert more happy feels here.
So if you can, I implore you to look around, find people that might need help and give them your time, give them your advice, give them a chance. You might not fully understand what it will mean to them but you could have a significant impact on their life.