By Shelia Newman, MS, President
Attend any awards ceremony and right after the person being honored thanks his or her parents, that person then thanks the people who have provided support, guidance, opportunities—that person’s mentors. Imagine for just a minute that the person in the audience being thanked is you. Mentoring can be one of the most rewarding experiences of your career. Helping others is rejuvenating and for those of us who strive to have meaning in our lives, we find mentoring makes us feel useful and happier. It’s even helped me find more creative solutions to my work problems as I ponder advice to give to my mentees.
I had informally mentored younger employees for years. After starting my own business and achieving some success, I’ve had the opportunity to mentor a young veteran and several young women who have started companies and find it rewarding to watch them achieve their goals.
My first formal mentoring experience started earlier when the company I was working for sponsored a Disability Mentoring Day, which is a national effort coordinated by the American Association of People with Disabilities to promote career development for students and job-seekers with disabilities through hands-on career exploration and ongoing mentoring relationships. At the time it was a one-day event and we brought several students from the local school system into our office to tell them about work and to create awareness around employment opportunities for people with disabilities.
Disability Mentoring Day is officially launched the third Wednesday of each October during National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM), but the program has expanded from a one-day event to a year-round initiative across the country.
Two years ago, I, along with several other New Editions employees, became part of a more formal mentoring program. We were assigned mentees from the Career Link Mentoring Program which is a mentoring program for member companies of the U.S. Business Leadership Network (USBLN).
I was assigned a recent college graduate and given access to materials to help guide me though the six-month mentoring experience. Being able to share ideas and receive advice from other mentors in monthly teleconference calls was also helpful.
It so happened that my mentee was not looking for a job, but had started a business and wanted guidance, contacts and business ideas. Working with him these past six months to review his business plan, help him with his website, and introduce him to potential clients gave me reason to examine my own motives for starting my company. It energized me in a way I hadn’t experienced for a while. I’m positive I got as much out of the relationship as my mentee did.
If work has become routine and you’re looking for a challenge, I encourage you to mentor. You can choose a younger person in your company, find a person with a disability from the organizations mentioned above, or go to Girls and Boys Clubs of America, but choose to mentor and change a life—yours.
Shelia Newman, President, New Editions Consulting, Inc. has over 25 years of experience in Federal government contracting. http://neweditions.net/our-team/president-and-owner