Over the last 25 years of being an entrepreneur, I have mentored many young people in one way or another. Some of my mentorship has been taking on young, non-qualified employees and teaching them skills that would enable them to be employable in the future. In the last 5-6 years I have had many students spend 2-3 months doing their internship with me, as part of their final year of studies.
Just over a year ago, I was contacted by a young lady, Andisiwe, who found me on LinkedIn and asked to be her mentor; this has been one of my most rewarding mentorship experiences. After meeting with Andi over a period of about 12 months, teaching her as much as I could in the time we had available and encouraging her to set goals with regard to her ideal job and her life, eventually led to me taking her on as a full time employee. The mentorship continues as I impart my years of experience and knowledge to her. As much as I am the teacher, I am also the student, learning daily from this amazing young lady who has not had life handed to her on a golden platter.
WHAT IS MENTORING
Taking a young person under your wing, giving them guidance, encouragement and upskilling them, whether by spending a couple of hours a month together, or by having them work at your business for a period of time.
As much as entrepreneurship is encouraged as a solution to unemployment, you cannot just take a person fresh out of school or college/varsity and expect them to become a successful entrepreneur. Throwing money at a young person to start a business does not guarantee success, in fact more likely the opposite. Mentorship is a way of giving them practical training, teaching them how to avoid mistakes that we ourselves may have made, helping them build up contacts and giving them the confidence that they need to become a successful entrepreneur.
Jobs are not easy to come by and by giving someone the edge of knowing work etiquette, how to apply their skills and what is expected of them, could be the difference between landing a job or not.
HOW DO WE GO ABOUT FINDING A MENTEE
There are a number of ways to do this;
- Contact a local college or university and ask if they have students who need to do an internship.
- Get involved with groups / networks who offer mentorship programs.
- Ask at your church if there is anyone who is looking for a mentor.
- Put it out on social media that you are looking for a mentee.
- Start a group of adults who mentor a group of young people – each tackle a different skill.
Being a mentor to these young people comes with quite a big responsibility. It is not about just having an extra set of hands to do odd jobs around the office or getting together for the odd cup of coffee; it requires commitment to teach that person & to make sure that they are equipped with enough skills, tools and information to be able to do their job properly.
WHAT IS THE IMPACT
Life changing for the mentee and super rewarding for the mentor! You are literally taking someone and giving them a step up in life, a chance that they may not have otherwise had.
For those taking on interns, it is not always convenient having someone in your space, and especially someone who knows very little about business or work practices and for those who commit to mentoring outside of the workplace, it is a commitment of time and effort, but we all have a responsibility to help these youngsters to get into the job market or to train them to be entrepreneurs in their own right.
If every entrepreneur and employed person was able to take one young person under their wing and teach them and train them up, imagine the impact it would have on society as a whole. Words that come to mind are #productivity #economy #growth #fulfillment #hope #purpose.