Volunteer mentoring is a rewarding role that offers the opportunity to really make a tangible and effective difference in the lives of young people. Volunteer mentors receive a real sense of purpose and many other emotional paybacks from their work.
Together with these rewards, volunteer mentors also learn valuable new skills and experiences that they can apply to their career or personal life. Here a 7 useful skills that you can gain from volunteer mentoring.
Emotional intelligence is defined as the capacity and ability to be aware of, control, and express one’s emotions effectively. Emotional intelligence affects all areas of your life, especially with regards to handling interpersonal relationships and displaying empathy. As a mentor, you have to listen to your mentee and empathise with their situation. You have to put yourself in their shoes so that you can understand what they are going through and relate it to yourself. You will then have to communicate your understanding in an effective way so that they feel like their feelings are being acknowledged and appreciated. These interactions will build up your emotional intelligence and help you to handle all interpersonal relationships well. In a work environment, this skill will be especially useful when working in a team or with your colleagues in general. It will help you to lead team discussions, resolve and avoid conflicts, and ensure that everyone is cooperating and working together effectively.
Leadership and Management Skills
As a mentor, you are put in a position of authority and you are looked upon as a role model and a source of guidance. Though this may seem daunting, being a role model teaches you important leadership and management lessons such as responsibility, effective communication, time management, and accountability. It is your responsibility as a mentor to ensure that mentoring sessions take place on schedule, that discussions are productive, and that desired outcomes are reached. It is also your responsibility to motivate your mentee and ensure that they feel supported. These skills will help you manage your work tasks well which will show employers that you are responsible enough to take on leadership roles.
As a mentor, you will usually work with a different mentee every term or year. This will expose you to a wide range of various young people with different personalities, talents, and aspirations. They will also be from different backgrounds and face different challenges in their everyday life. Through this, you will learn how to adapt your mentoring sessions to the young person specifically. This will build your adaptability skills which will make you more versatile and make it easier for you to work under change or pressure, which is something valued by employers. This exposure to different people will also build interpersonal skills and that will help you to relate to different types of people. This is valuable in the workplace as you will be interacting with many different people from various departments and companies, and also from various cultures and nationalities.
Self-Reflection and Self-Evaluation
Volunteer mentoring and listening to a young person’s thoughts and feelings will put you in a position to reflect on your own life. You will use your own life and the decisions you made to mentor the young person, setting examples of good and bad responses, reactions, and decisions. Reflecting on yourself allows you to become more self-aware and better at making future decisions. It allows you to pause and evaluate yourself to make sure that you are doing the right thing, and it makes you more aware of the consequences of your actions so that you will now know how to prevent negative outcomes. For example, if you know that a certain habit or behaviour has negative effects on your colleagues or friends, then you will learn to work on changing this habit or behaviour. Self-evaluation is an important part of personal development and it will have positive effects on various aspects of your life.
Resilience is about keeping a positive attitude in the face of adversity, and it is often related to self-confidence and self-belief. It is one of the main skills you will teach a young person as a volunteer mentor. It is an important skill that will help them to face current and future challenges, keep a clear mind when dealing with adversity, and to never give up. As a volunteer mentor, you will set a good example by building up your own resilience and believing in yourself. This will greatly increase your confidence which will improve the way you work and interact with people.
Developing a Personal Brand
As a volunteer mentor, you will be delivering a consistent message to young people that you have developed from your own life, your past decisions, and your experiences. This consistent message will become a personal brand that will be easily identifiable to your mentee. A personal brand will show others that you are someone who has specific skills and talents. It will make you stand out to employers and colleagues and it will make you more confident in yourself and more charismatic. Developing a personal brand is also helpful to entrepreneurs as it will help develop your business identity and to network with other businesses and entrepreneurs.
During mentoring sessions, your mentee will usually approach you with a problem or situation that they are facing or not sure how to deal with. They will come to you for encouragement but more importantly for advice and effective solutions. This builds up your problem-solving skills. It will teach you how to look at a problem with objectivity, to find a solution for the problem, and to find a way to prevent the problem from happening again. This skill is something that you will definitely need for any workplace in any career. Even if your work is straightforward and easy, you will eventually face challenges in some way or form that you will need to solve. If you have good problem-solving skills, you will be able to show employers that you can solve a range of challenges, and you will also show them that you can solve challenges without their help. This independence will show them that you are capable and efficient.
This is by no means an exhaustive list of the skills that you can gain from volunteering as a mentor. You will find even more useful skills and tools that you can apply to both your career and personal life.
If you would like to help a young person between the ages of 14 and 18 to achieve their career or personal aspirations, then contact us to find out how you can join our after-school mentoring programme. Our mentoring programme welcomes volunteer mentors from various career fields and backgrounds. Visit our website to find out more.