29 Jan The Importance of Mentorship
“A mentorship is a relationship between two people where the individual with more experience, knowledge, and connections is able to pass along what they have learned to a more junior individual within a certain field.”
Positive youth development research has found that mentorship can be beneficial in many ways; both for those doing the mentoring and for those receiving the mentoring. This is especially important for youth who are going through quite a critical developmental stage where they are faced with various challenges.
Young people often deal with issues such as peer relationships, self-confidence and self-esteem, personal identity, academic stressors and family issues. A positive mentorship relationship provides a space for young people to get guidance, advice and support while they are navigating through such day-to-day life stressors.
How mentors benefit from mentoring:
- Improvement in communication and personal skills
- Developing leadership and management qualities
- Reinforcing own skills and abilities
- Increases confidence and motivation
- Counts as a volunteering experience
- Enhances CV
- Sense of achievement, fulfilment and personal growth
How mentees benefit from mentoring:
- Gaining practical advice, encouragement and support
- Learning from the experiences of others
- Increases social and academic confidence
- Becoming more empowered to make decisions
- Enhancing communication, study and personal skills
- Developing strategies for dealing with both personal and academic issues
- Identifying goals and establishing a sense of direction
- Gaining valuable insight into things that are important
In the long term, mentorship has been proven to have positive outcomes. Research has found that for mentors being involved in volunteering leads to them being recognised by others, offers a rewarding/learning experience, and often leads to improved job performance (Eby et al., 2006).
For mentees, mentoring has been found to help improve psychological and educational outcomes of youth, and may serve an important role for youth experiencing risk in the home (Timpe & Lukenheimer, 2015). In fact, “close, healthy, supportive relationships between mentors and mentees that last for a significant portion of time (i.e., more than one year) are central to success” (https://youth.gov/youth-topics/mentoring/benefits-mentoring-young-people). Later on in life, it has been proven that students who have had mentors are also likely to be more satisfied with their university courses, be more involved in professional organizations, and have a stronger sense of professional identity.
As summarised by Eby et al., 2006, “for the long-term outcomes, mentoring programs can not only lead mentors themselves to achieve career success as their leadership skill and personal reputation will be improved and enhanced through their daily guidance, but also motivate mentees to increase and strengthen their career outcomes.”
Eby, L. et al (2006). The Relationship between Short-Term Mentoring Benefits and Long-Term Mentor Outcomes. Journal of Vocational Behavior 69(3):424-444
Timpe, Z. C and Lukenheimer, E. (2015). The Long-Term Economic Benefits of Natural Mentoring Relationships for Youth. Am J Community Psychol. 56(0): 12–24
Written by Reabetsoe Buys – Youth Development Programme Lead, Counselling Psychologist at Tomorrow Trust