Being a mentor means being a positive person in someone else’s life. You are passionate and genuine about helping others reach their full potential, and you do so by giving guidance, advice, or even sharing your life experiences with them. You actively listen to their struggles, show empathy, and steer them in the right direction to success. By supporting them, you are letting them know that they are heard, valued, and capable of doing anything.
There are many examples of mentors. Obvious ones can be found in popular movies such as Miyagi from Karate Kid or Yoda from Star Wars. Others may be more familiar to you, such as your parents, a relative, or a close friend. Essentially, anyone can be a mentor, even you!
My #1 mentor is my mum, who has been supportive of me since the very beginning!
My experience as a mentor began in 2019, when I decided – completely on a whim – to apply for the LEAP UP Mentoring Program (LEAP) as part of my GLP. At the time, I didn’t know what I was getting myself into. I didn’t even know what the word ‘mentor’ really meant at the time.
On my first day, I was so nervous. Despite hours of training and research beforehand, I was still worried I wouldn’t connect well with my mentee. But I was pleasantly surprised to learn there was nothing to be afraid of. In fact, my mentee was a lot more nervous than I was!
The first couple of mentoring sessions focused heavily on introductions and breaking the ice. Initially, I didn’t understand why icebreaking was so important. Reflecting on it now, I understand that a fundamental part of being a mentor is building strong rapport with your mentee to establish trust. Trust is what leads to a good relationship between you and your mentee, which leads to better communication, which then results in effective mentoring.
Other sessions concentrated on teaching life skills relevant to your mentee’s needs. As the connection with my mentee grew stronger over time, I felt more confident in my ability to adapt to their needs. I knew more about their interests, values, and strengths, which helped me to understand what I could do that would benefit them most. I learnt how to be a better mentor for my mentee, which meant they could engage better with the program.
Then the last mentoring session came around. I was sad, but I was also proud. I was proud of my mentee for coming out of the program as a better person equipped for the future, and I was also proud of myself for deciding to take a step out of my comfort zone and give something back to my community! After my time with LEAP, I knew that I wanted to continue my passion for mentoring, which brings us to the present, where I currently mentor with RAISE Foundation.
Despite my bad hair day, here I am proudly wearing my LEAP shirt!
If there’s one thing I’ve learnt from all of this, it’s that, as a mentor, you will make a positive impact on your mentee’s life, whether you know it or not. The connection you form with your mentee is so special, that just being there for them every session is enough to make them feel appreciated. After all, you are not only their role model, but also their support network. Having that kind of presence is a lot more valuable than you may realise!
Mentoring has also been really beneficial to me. I have developed better confidence in myself and my abilities to be a leader and team player. I have also improved in my listening and communication skills with younger people. And, most important of all, it feels so rewarding to know that I’ve helped play a part in a young person’s success.
Looking back, I am thankful to LEAP for allowing me to experience being a mentor for Australia’s youth. I am grateful that I was given the opportunity to give back to my community in a way that is relevant to my degree, and know that the skills I have learnt through mentoring will help me on my path to success! I am glad that my mentee and I both experienced a journey of self-growth together, and I wish them good luck with their future.
To conclude, I highly encourage anyone who is interested to volunteer as a mentor too. Take the chance – you won’t regret it!