Mentoring is for Everyone
Mentoring is an educational experience where someone in possession of certain skills provides guidance, encouragement and/or expertise to someone who would like to obtain such skills. There is not a one size fits all definition or set of responsibilities and skills required, as all those seeking mentorship will have unique circumstances and aims which suit their individual goals. For example, a young aspiring business leader may have different goals to someone interested in the arts, or someone seeking guidance in overcoming adversity.
No matter what stage someone is at, and no matter what their interests – whether regarding education, employment, or personal circumstances – there is always room for growth. This highlights the need for diversity in mentorship, and the need for mentors from all backgrounds and industries, who possess varying levels of life-experience and knowledge in a wide range of subjects.
Whilst interests, knowledge and goals may vary, one thing that all mentoring relationships have in common is mutual awareness of a need for development, and the belief that this can be achieved.
Fun Fact #1: Mark Zuckerberg (founder of Facebook and Meta) was mentored by Steve Jobs (Apple founder)
Fun Fact #2: Oprah Winfrey was mentored by Maya Angelou (famous poet)
Fun Fact #2: Bill Gates (Microsoft founder) was mentored by Warren Buffet (investor)
Benefitting Young People
During adolescence and early adulthood, young people are expected to decide on a path to which – it is often suggested - their future relies. At DYW Scotland, we understand that growth and development is a continuous process. Passions and interests can change to coincide with this and there is no wrong path, as career journeys can take a non-linear approach. Despite development and change taking place throughout a person’s entire life, mentoring can have a great impact on the decisions that a young person makes regarding their education or early career.
Many young people have specific career interests, of which adults in their lives may lack understanding or knowledge. An example is that of James Stephen ‘Jimmy’ Donaldson, or better known as Mr Beast (highest earning YouTuber and philanthropist) whose parents lacked understanding of the potential in a career which helped him accumulate a net worth of £394 million. Mentoring provides young people with the opportunity to expand knowledge within their field of interest by learning from someone who is knowledgeable in that subject.
Additionally, some young people may lack presence of a trusted adult in their lives altogether. In such cases, mentoring can provide inspiration, motivation and increase confidence in taking steps to pursue education or a career. In turn, this can help break cycles of generational poverty by enabling a young person to overcome adversity.
No matter their background, ability, career stage or educational status, mentoring can encourage young people to take positive steps in building their career in a way that suits them.
In July 2023, DYW Scotland welcomed Molly for a summer internship through Career Ready's mentoring programme. This helped Molly develop professionally, as her feedback states:
"My Career Ready internship with Developing the Young Workforce allowed me to work on many skills, such as confidence, communication, using new technology and much more. All are very valuable skills to have when entering the world of work, and they will stick with me in further education and future employment. During the internship, I completed projects for the team and joined in with meetings which allowed me to gain a great understanding of what working in an office is like and an insight to professional behaviours. I was also lucky enough to be working alongside a wonderful, friendly and understanding team; this instantly calmed all nerves I had before starting the internship."
The benefits that mentoring has on young people are clear, but what do mentors get out of the experience?
Providing direction and guidance to a young person can be a great opportunity for increasing leadership skills in professionals who may or may not aspire to manage others in the workplace. Whether a mentor aspires for this or not, mentoring can aid development in a number of skills which are crucial to the workplace.
Firstly, communication is a key part of mentoring. Mentors will actively listen to their mentee(s) to understand what they hope to achieve, whilst effectively communicating ideas and methods which support mentees in achieving such goals. The latter part of this may also aid planning skills, alongside a mentor’s ability to motivate their mentee. All of these skills are transferrable to roles in which a leader or manager communicates with and motivates their team.
Despite a mentor’s aim being to increase confidence and knowledge in their mentee(s), mentors can also gain perspective through connecting with a diverse range of young people from different backgrounds, who may provide insight to different life experiences. Providing knowledge and expertise to someone who is learning can also increase a mentor’s confidence in their own skillset and abilities.
Clare in the Community vs Corporate Clare
Clare is the National Projects Manager at DYW Scotland. For almost two years, Clare has mentored a young person for one hour per week through the MCR Pathways programme. This has contributed to Clare’s professional development through increasing her confidence in the workplace, as Clare states:
“Mentoring is a two way process, and I have learned so much not only about my mentee but also about myself personally and professionally too. Being a mentor and trusted adult has allowed me to bring more of my personality and my authentic self to the relationship - putting it simply I can wear jeans, trainers and a hoody instead of normal work attire. It has encouraged me to let colleagues see more of 'Clare' whilst also learning how to balance being professional, being a role model whilst still being me, something that I actively encourage others to do but I haven't always been so great following my own advice!”
DYW Scotland’s team members are actively engaged in other mentoring programmes too. Conor is also a National Projects Manager (construction), and is a mentor for Career Ready – a programme in which a young person is mentored in the workplace. In July last year, Conor facilitated a work placement at DYW Scotland for his mentee. This contributed to his professional development as follows:
"It was the first time I had to carry out paperwork and due diligence for a work placement, and I also had to develop my mentee's induction, and then line manage her during the internship. So, I learned a lot about my skills and also development areas as a leader in the workplace through my role as a mentor."
Mentoring is not only beneficial to mentees and their mentors, but also to the mentors’ organisation as a whole. Through development of the aforementioned skills, a mentor’s organisation can benefit from their employees’ management and leadership skills, alongside increased knowledge and perspectives. Additionally, mentoring programmes can increase motivation and provide a sense of purpose, therefore, keeping employees engaged.
According to research by MCR Pathways, 89% of research respondents agreed that "organisations who sponsor volunteer activities offer a better working environment than those who do not." Read more about how mentoring can benefit organisations here.
Mentor Young People in Scotland
The benefits of mentoring can be felt by all those involved, including mentees, mentors, and their organisations. If you feel inspired to mentor a young person or encourage employees to get involved, check out programmes and further information from the following organisations:
Scottish Mentoring Network
Share your mentoring experiences via X, Instagram and LinkedIn to inspire others to make a difference. To make things easier, we have created image templates which can be accessed via the Power of an Hour Campaign Page. Make sure you include the #PowerOfAnHour hashtag and mention @DYWScot on X and Instagram, or @DYW Scotland on LinkedIn.