Youthentity column: Mentorship — The benefits flow both ways |

Youthentity column: Mentorship — The benefits flow both ways

Kirsten McDaniel
For Youthentity

If you’ve been lucky enough to have a mentor, it’s likely you count it among your most valuable life experiences. Without a doubt, one of the keys to success is having the support and encouragement of people along the way — the impact of mentorship on one’s career can be powerful and affirming.

Mentors help people learn, grow and progress in their careers, guiding them to set and achieve goals while helping to navigate crossroads and unfamiliar paths. It’s a unique relationship — one in which the benefits flow both ways.

The benefits of mentorship for young people are proven. One study found that those who receive mentoring are promoted a staggering five times more often than people who do not have mentors. Having a seasoned professional as a guide is almost certain to increase confidence and raise self-awareness.

Mentorship also:

  • Teaches us how to receive and process feedback (critical workplace skills).
  • Helps us to understand how we are perceived in an organization.
  • Holds us accountable for our actions, making it easier to stay on track.

Mentors also help their less experienced mentees to increase their network and make connections within their field — all-important for both career mobility and job searching. Unsurprisingly, those who receive mentorship also report greater job satisfaction, likely because they’re able to navigate their careers more effectively with the guidance of a seasoned professional.

The benefits of mentorship are not exclusive to mentees. The chance to look through fresh eyes can lead to a more streamlined approach or process in the mentor’s own work life. Remember our statistic on the 5X increased advancement rates of mentees?

Mentors are six times more likely to receive promotions than their non-mentoring peers. Mentoring exposes new ideas and revelatory ways of thinking and problem-solving, leading to innovation. For those who manage others, being a mentor can provide a space to understand the perspectives and concerns of those who need leadership as they begin their careers.

Of course, mentorship also leads to a sense of purpose and personal satisfaction.

When is the ideal time to seek out mentorship? I would argue that mentorship becomes valuable as soon as we’re able to consider (and plan for) a future as an independent adult. For high school students, getting involved with extracurricular programs — such as Youthentity’s Career Academy program — is an excellent way to find mentorship opportunities. It’s never too early to realize the importance of continually developing our skills, learning new things and challenging ourselves on a regular basis, both personally and professionally.

Kirsten McDaniel is the executive director of Youthentity, a Carbondale-based youth development nonprofit that offers career exploration opportunities and personal financial literacy education to over 4,000 youth throughout Colorado.

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