Creating A Skilled Workforce and Impacting Young People’s Futures Through Mentoring

January is National Mentoring Month and in celebration of that, we will feature several guest blogs from professionals regarding the importance of mentoring.

This National Mentoring Month, consider changing the life of a young person by becoming a mentor.

Research has shown that young adults who face an opportunity gap but have a mentor are 55 percent more likely to be enrolled in college than those who did not have a mentor. That means sharing your knowledge and time can have an incredible effect on mentees.

NAF serves more than 110,000 students across the country. As of 2019, 70 percent of NAF academy students are students of color, 67 percent receive free/reduced price lunch, and nearly half are women.

When you mentor students from underrepresented groups, you’re ensuring a more equitable and balanced representation in your industry. Mentoring helps make the difference in closing the workforce gap by providing opportunities—that may not have been previously accessible—for young people to gain exposure and learn what it’s really like first-hand to work in a professional field. Just one conversation with a professional can greatly impact the direction of a young person’s future.

By mentoring young people, you’re also not only helping young people be future ready, you’re helping businesses and communities by creating an educated and skilled workforce.

We partner with companies like Verizon and Dentsu Aegis Network to connect NAF’s young people with mentors who can provide a critical link from the classroom to the workplace by sharing professional insights and industry expertise. These industry leaders are preparing the next generation of leaders and creating a pathway back to their companies.

“The continued growth and prosperity of our region depends largely on an educated, skilled, and inspired workforce,” says Sanjiv Yajnik, President, Financial Services, Capital One. “Support of NAF’s internship program is one of the ways we help to mentor and retain the very best talent in the Dallas area.”

While it may sound like a lot of work, mentoring students doesn’t have to feel like a second job.

You can teach students a lot about your profession and industry by being intentional about your time together. If you’ve decided to become a mentor, start by asking some key questions:

  • What are the goals?
  • What skills do students need to master to be successful in our work together?
  • What experience or knowledge are students bringing in that pertain to our work together?

It’s important to design a mentoring experience that ensures students are getting the valuable professional skills they’ll need to be future ready and connect what they learn back to the classroom.

Here are a few tips for delivering a meaningful experience:

  • request a colleague with specific skills or content expertise to assist;
  • share industry resources, such as templates, websites, publications, or best practices that will help the project;
  • provide insights and expertise, leading the student or students through the thought process and/or rationale behind best practices or methods; and
  • complete an evaluation of your experience.

NAF’s Project Mentor in the Classroom Preparation Guide offers helpful tips and strategies for mentors to deliver meaningful mentoring experiences.

In the end, remember to celebrate your experience and inspire your colleagues to become mentors. If you’re ready to change a young person’s life in your community, NAF can help you get started.

Check out great tips shared during our Twitter chat, January 23, by searching #MentoringChat.

Stefani Falkowski is the digital marketing manager at NAF. She’s passionate about universal access to education and giving a platform to students across the country doing incredible things. Stefani writes about workforce development, career building, and the impact of the NAF network.