Over the past six editions of ProEngage, one of the most popular and widely available type of project has been around mentoring young people. Be it mentoring of school children, college pass-outs, job seekers, office staff or communities, mentoring projects come in varied formats – each offering a unique opportunity for the ProEngager to shape the way an individual thinks and conducts him/herself. For first timers – it can seem a little daunting since you’re wading in new waters, but here’s a quick list of what to keep in mind before you embark on the mentorship journey through ProEngage – a couple of tips and tricks shared by ProEngagers themselves:
- Breaking the ice and gaining their confidence:
One of the most critical points is to be able to make a connection with your mentee. It’s important to gain their confidence, which means you need to have it too – in your abilities and in your intentions. Spend quality time with them – get to know them beyond the realms of work. Let them know that you’re open, approachable and non-judgemental. Once you get to know them, you would be able to know their strengths and weaknesses and be able to better guide them towards their goals.
- Setting the most effective mentoring method:
One hat does not fit all. It is better to spend a couple of sessions using various methods of teaching to understand which methods are the most effective for the mentees. A wonderful example is how Mallika Sriraman and Sneha Powar managed their mentorship opportunity, during their recent ProEngage Project. They planned the sessions and prepared material and content on various topics. After they had designed presentations and lectures they soon realised that the students learnt better through interactions and group discussions. Hence, Mallika and Sneha switched roles and became facilitators instead of teachers. They encouraged the students to discuss amongst themselves and stressed on the ‘learning-by-doing’ method.
- Setting mutual goals for the mentor & mentee:
Many a times, the mentee is looking for help but does not know where they are going or what they want to achieve! In the meantime the mentor is set on creating well defined goals and creating parameters for evaluation. But how far can you go without a mutual roadmap?
ProEngaging is a wonderful opportunity for the person you are mentoring to really discover who they are, understand their strengths and channelize them into avenues that are new, interesting and perhaps lucrative. This journey takes time, but it’s one of the most rewarding parts of mentorship to guide your mentee on their journey of discovery.
- Direct Advice v/s Guiding:
There is a difference between giving advice vis-a-vis guiding someone gently along so that they can make the discoveries for themselves One method is to ask questions. Don’t pry or get too personal, but it’s important to draw out interests, thoughts and experiences from a mentee to gauge where their passion really lies. In turn, encourage them to ask questions too – without inhibitions. Another method is to tell stories from your experiences; personal experiences can help mentees relate to scenarios and instances that they too would face in their journey towards a successful career.
Mentoring isn’t always easy. Often there are difficult decisions to be made by both parties but never doubt that you can make a difference. Just being there as a reliable sounding board, a reliable resource and supportive advisor, can make a great difference to driven young people, especially those who are less privileged but yearn for someone to look up to, and learn from.