“How much time will this take?”
“What kind of activities should I do with my mentee?”
“How do I know if I’ve made a difference?”
“How do I talk with my mentee?”
“But I don’t even like kids!”
When deciding to become a mentor, you might have many questions and doubts. And it’s no wonder – mentoring is a huge commitment. To help answer some of your questions and address some of your concerns, four current mentors offer their insight and advice:
“I was introduced to mentoring in my Psych 477 class and I was excited to have an opportunity finally give back for all the awesome supports I’ve had in my adolescent life. After the first semester I mentored, I was hooked and quickly fell in love with it. I think that mentoring is fulfilling on both sides of the coin, from the mentors’ side as well as the mentees.” ~Anana Tinnhe
“Having a genuine interest and drive in what you’re doing is incredibly valuable—people who mentor for the sake of being a mentor, with no ulterior motives, tend to be the best to work with and tend to be favorites among the mentees.” ~ Christina Murzynski
“I had little prior experience working with kids and I assumed I’d be a little awkward. But it’s actually been a very rewarding experience. If you can change at least one kid’s life, your effort will have been worth it.” ~ Ashley White
“It’s a great feeling knowing that we have made a huge impact on their lives as well as our own. I love being a mentor and want to continue to do it. Demonstrating the activities and sharing to the mentees what it means to have empathy, gratitude, respect, it can honestly go a long way because when I was taught something similar to this, I knew what kind of person I wanted to be.” ~ Elysa Marie Guerrero
In your opinion and experience, what does it take to be an effective mentor?
- Mentors need to remember: it’s about them [mentees], not us.
- Be flexible and willing to learn.
- Dedication to the mentor program is a must—mentoring is a time and energy-consuming endeavor, and having the drive to maintain focus on the outcomes when the going gets rough goes appreciated by your fellow mentors and your mentees for sure.
- Have a supportive leader [mentor coordinator] who can guide you in the right direction.
- Take advantage of mentor training and education.
“Grit, determination, and an excellent work ethic are some qualities that I have found to be helpful leading activities and planning lesson plans.” ~ Anana Tinnhe
What have you learned from being a mentor?
- I’ve learned a great deal about kids in general. I never considered myself a kid person, so I would say that that’s a massive area of improvement for me.
- I’ve really learned a lot about patience and working with a team.
- Being consistent, persistent, and striving to meet other individuals where they are, as opposed to where they could/should be, are all traits that are easier said than done. However, mentoring has given me the chance to hone in on these skills and cultivate a positive change for me as well.
- I have learned that I am more of a “leader” than I thought I was.
“I’ve learned that it is not easy at first. It takes a while for the mentees to truly open up to you. But as you continue to know and grow with them, you can see how big of a difference they’ve made from the beginning to the end of this mentor program.” ~ Elysa Marie Guerrero
What piece of advice can you offer new and aspiring mentors?
- Communicate with each other is key – Not just with the mentees but also with the other mentors.
- Be patient. It may take a while for your mentee to open up to you but don’t give up on them. Trust me, they need you.
- Be flexible! Just allow yourself to go with the flow. Because what we do as mentors is so important for the kids, necessary changes will need to be made time and again. Flexibility is a good life skill to have, as well. Have you ever tried to work with an inflexible adult? They’re frustrating!
- Mentoring is one of the most fulfilling things you can ever do – takes a lot of hard work and perseverance, but if you stick with it you will quickly begin to recognize the impact you can have on students’ lives.
“Really listen to your kids. Actually listening to what they have to say, and not preparing a response or trying to decide how they actually feel, is arguably the first and most important step in building a relationship where they feel they can trust you and depend on you. Kids definitely know the difference between being heard as an equal and being heard as a child, they’re used to that kind of behavior from every other adult in their life—be present with them, and it’ll make all the difference.” ~ Christina Murzynski
About the mentors:
- Elysa Marie Guerrero is a 3rd year Psychology major and has been mentoring for 1 ½ years
- Christina Murzynski is a 3rd year Psychology major and has been mentoring for 2 years
- Ashley White is a 3rd year Psychology major and has just started mentoring this semester (Fall 2016).
- Anana Tinnhe is a 4th year Psychology major and has been mentoring for 2 years.