How to become a mentor in any industry and why it matters

For something so common, exactly what is and isn’t mentoring can be a little tricky to define. It’s weekly/monthly meetings with some young up-and-comer, right? Or the odd coffee date with someone you’ve known for years. Maybe it’s just being on the other end of the phone in moments of career crisis. It can really be all of this and more (or less). The concept is incredibly broad and for good reason: every mentor and mentee are different and that relationship needs to be flexible to cater for them. Simply put, it’s just supporting someone younger or less experienced, sharing in the highs and lows and, more often than not, getting back just as much as you put in.

Here’s how to become a mentor and four reasons why it matters.

Learn more about yourself 

You’ve probably heard the old saying that the best way to learn is to teach. That goes for mentoring as well. You’ll be surprised how much you learn about yourself, your everyday habits and your company just by thinking about how to explain them to someone else. It’s a chance to deepen your emotional intelligence — when to pause before giving advice, the art of the perfect compliment sandwich, how to properly listen — and improve your leadership skills. By mentoring someone else you reflect on your own career journey, the good and bad, and see how far you’ve come.

Kick your own career up a notch

If you want to be really ruthless about it, think of the money. Former computer company Sun Microsystems tracked the performance of hundreds of mentors and mentees (not manatees, they’re terrible with computers and rarely get promoted) over seven years and found a big difference in pay packets. Not only did 25% of mentees get a pay rise compared to 5% of those without a mentor, the mentors did even better, with 28% jumping up a salary grade. Volunteering your time to mentor the younger generation gets you not only recognition but reward.

Give back to the community (and your business)

Maybe you remember a great piece of advice or mentorship you received when you were younger and want to pass that good fortune on, or like the idea of helping someone find their pathway in life and navigate common themes or challenges. Since so much of life is about who you know, you likely have contacts and can help open doorways to kick-start someone’s career. Possibly it’s the thrill of being able to share in someone else’s success that brings you to mentoring. But if not, that’s ok too because the more tangible benefits are huge. 

The pay rises we mentioned at Sun Microsystems weren’t even the most impressive finding in that study. In the first part of the research,

the company retained 72% of its mentees and 69% of its mentors compared to fewer than half (49%) of those not involved in the program.

We all know it’s easier to retain than to hire and the California company calculated that benefit alone was $6.7 million. If your workplace doesn’t have a structured mentoring program and you’re wanting to either give back or start your own business or firm one day, Grandshake’s mentoring program is a great way to dip your toe in and build on your personal build.

Learn about the younger generation

What’s the deal with kids these days? No really, what makes them tick? If you don’t have children in high school or their early 20s right now, there’s a good chance you have no idea beyond the odd story about “TikTok influencers”, or “youths gone wild”. And who can blame you? The world is changing faster than ever and it's hard enough to keep up with how your colleagues and competitors are changing, let alone the younger generations. But Gen Zers are tomorrow’s workforce (and consumers) so any insights into their anxieties and motivations can be extremely valuable.

By mentoring a high school student or young adult one-on-one you’ll learn a lot more than what 100 Buzzfeed listicles or Instagram hashtags could ever teach you.

Become a mentor with Grandshake

If you’ve wanted to become a mentor, but don’t know where to start or worry you don’t have the time, this is the part where we tell you how easy it is to become a mentor with Grandshake (because it is) and everything we can do to help (a lot). At the moment we’re looking for anyone in Science, Technology, Engineering, Project Management, Environmental Studies, Sustainability, Agriculture and Consulting to join our mentoring programs. All you need is a graduate degree or senior levels of industry experience and a passion for helping out. You can learn more here or reach out to us at hello@grandshake.co.

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