Everyone knows mentorship is critical to business success. A mentor is a source of knowledge and support, someone who genuinely cares about the growth and development of the mentee. With its now disproportionately large share of the U.S. work force1, Millennials—generally defined as people born between 1981 and 1997—need alternatives to the traditional one-on-one mentoring approach. There simply aren’t enough Baby Boomer and Generation X mentors to go around.
Additionally, we’re told Millennials don’t necessarily have a desire to balance work with life so much as integrate the two by finding personally fulfilling work. So it stands to reason that mentoring relationships outside of work are just as important to Millennials as those occurring on the job. I was curious about this, and started asking around. What I discovered surprised me—not all Millennials have mentors outside of work. Some are already mentors themselves. Here’s what two of them had to say.
GLY Marketing Coordinator, Stephanie Rasmusson, is a Community for Youth volunteer mentor.
Tell us about this program.
Community for Youth is an organization that creates a safe, supported and consistent community for high school students in the South Seattle area. CfY’s mission is to “inspire and support the social, emotional, and academic development of students through mentoring, learning experiences, and a powerful community.” It is a community where students can go to safely be their authentic selves, continue to develop as young adults in a supportive environment, ask questions and learn, and have a strong network of adults that they can count on as their allies.
Why did you become a mentor?
I wanted to get outside of my head and put my love for Seattle into action. I know the impacts of mentoring can be huge, and I also know how important it is to high school students that they feel like they are being heard. While I am not an expert at working with youth or mentoring, the power of having someone show up weekly to hear you out, share a meal with you and cheer you on can be a great experience for both the student and the mentor.
How did you hear about CfY? What drew you in?
GLY’s Human Resources department sent a message from CfY to our administration group last year and it landed in my inbox at the perfect time. I wanted to be consistently involved in my community and give my time to a cause I believed in. I called CfY for more information and it seemed like exactly what I was looking for. It felt scary and exciting and I knew it would be a fulfilling and meaningful experience for me.
I liked the idea of forming a community for students to feel safe and comfortable in if they weren’t getting that at school or at home. Another thing that interested me was that it was a commitment for an extended period of time. It requires giving 2 to 3 hours on a weekly basis to students who voluntarily opted into this program. I am not married and do not have children, so the majority of my time is spent thinking about myself. Time is a resource I am able to give.
What do you and your mentee typically do together?
My student, Johairah Bongato, and I usually share a meal together, and try to do something fun. Last year I was able to attend one of her track meets which was exciting. It felt good to be included in that part of her life. We also Snapchat each other every day. This year we are determined to go roller skating!
What does being a mentor mean to you?
Being a mentor means taking time to be present, actively listening, learning about the students in the community, and being a consistent part of their lives. I have been so fortunate in my life, and there are so many students in Seattle that are experiencing a totally different reality than I did as a young adult. I can’t directly change the situations, but what I can do is be involved in my community and show up for those students who do not have the resources and support that I was given.
In one sentence, tell me the most important thing you learned from your mentee so far.
She is relentlessly putting in crazy amounts of hours of hard work and determination to build the future that she wants; I think it is important to keep that same energy as an adult.
GLY Project Engineer, Myron Ramirez, is about to get start started with Community for Youth.
What made you decide to check it out?
It has always been a goal of mine to find a way to give back to the community. CfY focuses on teens from South Seattle High Schools, including Cleveland High School, which I attended. The program pairs mentors and students who both participate in life-skill workshops. Like Stephanie, I knew fairly quickly this would be the perfect opportunity to give back to the community that raised me.
What does being a mentor mean to you?
I believe as a mentor, it is your duty to provide your mentee with the support and tools they need to succeed. You help map a route to success with your mentee. Support can be a variety of things; ranging from helping them with schoolwork to just listening to them when they need to vent.
I understand you’re about to get matched to your mentee. What will you impart straight away?
I want them to know they are not alone. They can reach out whenever they are struggling, and I’ll do my best to help them overcome any obstacles. But it’s their responsibility to use my guidance during their journey.
Fast forward to the end of that journey. What do you hope your mentee will have gained?
I hope my mentee will feel like they truly benefited from me being in their life.
We’ll check back in with Myron and discover other interesting GLY mentor stories in 2018.
Visit the Community for Youth website for more information about their mentoring program.