Research shows that anyone and everyone can benefit from having a mentor. It is never a bad idea to have one more person to support and guide you or to gather further knowledge and expertise. But one demographic who can benefit and who may be overlooked is young people. Though mentoring is often seen as something that is solely helpful in boosting your career, research has found it can also be incredibly beneficial for young people still in education. Everychildneedsamentor.com writes that ‘In careers such as sport, performing arts, and business, high-quality mentoring is provided. These professionals have access to mentoring not because they’re failing, but because they have potential, so why don’t all young people have access to the same opportunities?’ Young people do not need mentors because they are not doing well enough but because of their incredible budding potential. Read on to learn a little bit more about how mentoring can benefit young people.
There are several key differences between running a mentoring programme for young people and running one for adults. In general, young people require a more emotional bond with their mentor. In one study it was found that, ‘adult mentoring relationships… may tend to be characterized by a relatively high level of fit between the background and skills of the mentor and specific needs of the protégé in that setting. In comparison, mentoring ties experienced by youth may tend to involve greater role complexity and be oriented more toward the development of significant emotional bonds’ (DuBois, Portillo, Rhodes, Silverthorn and Valentine 2011: 61-2). Especially when a young person is engaging in a mentoring relationship with someone older than them their mentor acts as a role model and confidante requiring a greater level of emotional bonding. Even when young people are involved in peer-to-peer mentoring greater emotional bonding is of benefit as there is a heightened social element to the relationship.
In addition to this there are elevated risks when running a mentoring programme for young people and therefore there must be firmer boundaries. Care should be taken to properly vet potential mentors, continually monitor mentoring relationships and liaise with mentees as well as mentee’s teachers and guardians to ensure that they remain continually beneficial and appropriate.
Research shows that the benefits traverse many areas of life, including what they dub both ‘soft’ and ‘hard’ improvements;
‘mentored youth often have benefited in more than one broad area of their development (e.g. social and academic), that program effects have tended to reflect a combination of both forward gains and avoidance of decline on outcomes, and that areas of positive impact have encompassed not only outcomes that tend to be seen as “soft” or subjective (e.g. attitudes) but also those that typically are regarded as “harder” and more objective (e.g. behavior, academic performance)’ (DuBois, Portillo, Rhodes, Silverthorn and Valentine 2011: 74).
Thus benefits of mentoring are wide ranging and diverse, contributing not only to the career prospects of young people but also to personal, emotional and social development.
Mentoring can also be especially useful for youth people who want to go into certain especially competitive industries. Suzanne F. Lindt and Cody Blair found evidence that, ‘Adolescents need a supportive relationship because of the subsequent investment and “social capital” that comes with that relationship’ (Lindt and Blair 2017: 35). For more information on the connections between mentoring and social capital theory check out our blog 'Mentoring and Social Capital Theory.'
With SUMAC, running a mentoring programme geared specifically towards benefitting young people has never been easier. Our easy to use and fully customisable interface allows you to give young people a sense of control over their mentoring experience.
Book a free demo with SUMAC today to find out how we can help you provide quality mentoring for the young people in your organisation.
DuBois, David L., Nelson Portillo, Jean E. Rhodes, Naida SIlverthorn and Jeffrey C Valentine. 'How Effective Are Mentoring Programs for Youth? A Systematic Assessment of the Evidence.' Psychological Science in the Public Interest. vol. 12, no. 2. August 2011, pp. 57-91.
Lindt, Suzanne F. and Cody Blair. 'Making a Difference with At-Risk Students: The Benefits of a Mentoring Program in Middle School.' Middle School Journal. vol. 48, no. 1. January 2017, pp. 34-39.