Mentoring The Youth Matters

Adolescents Mentoring Program

By Azugbene Solomon

We understand the benefits of mentoring young people when we hear the powerful stories of teens whose lives have been changed by a single, caring adult. If you listen, those stories are everywhere. Like me, you likely have a story of a mentor from your own youth.

What we know about mentoring is that it matters to positive youth development. Now, one of the largest mentoring studies ever conducted continues to support this thinking and links mentoring to a reduction in bullying.Mentoring creates positive impact in youth’s lives. Youth with mentors have higher rates of high school graduation and are less likely to drop out of school. They find more self-confidence, self esteem, and are able to create big goals for themselves. Additionally, studies show that behavior, attitudes, and relationships improve when a youth has a mentor. Mentors help children grow and close the social and/or economic opportunity gap.

According to MENTOR: The National Mentoring Partnership, children at risk who had a mentor were:

  • 55% more likely to enroll in college

  • 52% less likely to skip school

  • 37% less likely to skip class

  • 78% more likely to volunteer regularly

  • 90% interested in become a mentor themselves

  • 130% more likely to hold leadership positions

Youth who had a mentor also showed a better attitude towards school.

Regular meetings between mentor and student saw that youth were:

  • 46% less likely to use drugs

  • 27% less likely to drink

  • 81% more likely to participate in extracurricular activities

Youth also showed less depressive symptoms when they met regularly with their mentor.

While meeting a student or child once or twice a month may not seem like a huge impact, mentors are creating positive change in the lives of their students. Mentors become someone that youth look up to and trust; and youth may see their own dreams in their mentor. Being a mentor is a rewarding experience that allows us to be the person our younger selves needed.

A five year study sponsored by Big Brothers Big Sisters Canada found that children with mentors were more confident and had fewer behavioral problems. Girls in the study were four times less likely to become bullies than those without a mentor and boys were two times less likely. In general, young people showed increased belief in their abilities to succeed in school and felt less anxiety related to peer pressure.

Mentoring relationships with youth are complex and there is more to be learned about what makes them succeed, particularly when mentors are matched through organizations like Big Brothers Big Sisters and other kinds of nonprofits. In my own research with teens who became engaged citizens, all of the young people in the study had naturally developed mentee-mentor relationships with adults sometime during their middle and high school years. None were matched by organizations. Nonparent mentors – teachers, clergy, and civic leaders – were highly instrumental in how these teens learned to believe in themselves and tackle challenging goals – much like those in the Big Brothers Big Sisters study.

Six Qualities that Make You a Good Mentor for Youth

Most studies have focused more on the effects of mentorship on youth and less on what adults actually do in their role as mentors. But in my interviews with more than 40 young people who were mentored by adults, some common and important themes emerged.

Young people agreed that you are more likely to influence their life path if you possess the following six qualities:

1. You are Supportive

By far, the most important role of a mentor is to support and encourage young people, particularly as they struggle to overcome obstacles and solve problems. When young people feel down, upset with their families, or unhappy in their life situations, mentors are beside them, letting them talk about anything and reminding them of their innate value.

2. You are an Active Listener

Mentors listen first and speak last. Many teens mentioned how little they feel listened to by most adults. Often, they feel inferior even when they have good ideas. But mentors are different. They always listen, even when they are not obligated to do so.

3. You Push — Just Enough

As parents can attest, most teens don’t respond well to being pushed out of their comfort zones, particularly within families. But teens really like to have high expectations set for them – both academically and personally. They appreciate when mentors push them beyond what they may have imagined they could accomplish. In fact, this is likely the reason why mentored youth from disadvantaged backgrounds are twice as likely to attend college.

4. You Have Authentic Interest in Youth as Individual

Teens can tell the difference between adults who are authentically interested in them as individuals and those who are just playing a role. Mentors engage youth to understand all aspects of their lives and interests. They value young people’s ideas and honor their changing feelings and moods.

5. You Foster Self Decision-Making

Good mentors don’t judge young people or impose their own beliefs on them. Instead they remind teens who they are and help them believe they have the insights to make good choices. Knowing they are not being judged helps young people think through decisions critically, sifting through the deeper values that will inform the adults they become.

6. You Lend Perspective

Adult mentors provide perspective to young people from their additional years of life experience. When obstacles seem overwhelming, mentors help put those challenges in perspective. They also help young people see both sides of a situation, helping model the skills of positive skepticism.

What other qualities make good mentors for young people? How can we provide mentoring relationships to all teens? Please share your insights and experiences.

1. Bu Community Service Center: The Importance of Youth Mentorship

2. Psychology Today: Mentoring Youth Matters by Marilyn Price-Mitchell Ph.D

The Art of Building Relationships You Need to Succeed in Your Career

By Mat Apodaca

The power of building relationships cannot be overstated. While the concept “building relationships” sounds like a fancy business buzzword, there’s really a lot of substance behind it.

Many people do fine going about their business keeping their head down. Sometimes they poke their head out from their cubicle like a prairie dog when there’s free cake to be had but other than that, they do their own thing. They only worry about interacting with the people that they need to on a day to day basis.

Unfortunately, these people are shortchanging their own career. In this article, we will look at the art of building relationships you need to succeed in your career.

Remember, you are the CEO of your own career. How far you go towards achieving the goals you want for yourself in your career is squarely on your shoulders. Utilize the art of building relationships to help power success in your career.

Let’s take a look at why building relationships is so important to your career and how to go about doing it.


  1. How Building Relationships Helps Your Career
  2. Who to Build Relationships With

Internally At Work
Outside Of Work

3. The Art of Building Relationships

4. More Resources Related to Work Communication

5. How Building Relationships Helps Your Career

Building relationships is often cited as one of the key drivers for building a successful career.

It is absolutely mission critical. Building relationships helps your career in so many ways. When you make an effort to build relationships with your clients, it shows that you actually care about them as customers.

Creating positive and supportive relationships with your fellow coworkers will help you perform your job better. When they see that you are an important member of the team, they will want to work with you and come to look forward to interacting with you.

As you develop meaningful dialogue with your boss and deepen the relationship, he or she will see that they can trust you. They see you as someone who does what they say they are going to do and that builds trust. Building the trust and relationship with your boss can help you immensely in your career.

As we will see in this article shortly, there are some key people you should build relationships outside of work that can be hugely beneficial to you as well. Everywhere you look, you will see the value of creating strong relationships to propel your career.

Who to Build Relationships With

Ideally, you want to build relationships both inside and outside your company. I realize this might sound a bit strange, so let me explain:

The people inside your company can really help with the day to day aspects of your job and career. These include your boss or bosses, your fellow coworkers, and I’m going to include vendors you might work with.

Outside of your company, there are other groups of people you should work to build great relationships with. These include your customers, mentors, and key folks in your industry.

Let’s take a deeper look at these groups:

Internally At Work

Your Boss

This should immediate pop into your mind. It is super important to build a good relationship with your boss or bosses.

Many people have one boss. I’ve worked in several organizations where I really had numerous bosses I had to develop relationships with. In any event, this is a critical relationship to build.

Make sure you have ongoing, open communication with your boss. Stay clear on your objectives and priorities. Know what areas create the biggest impact for your supervisor (and therefore you).

Be aligned on strategic initiatives and how you can help shape and influence that whenever possible. This all becomes possible when you and your boss(es) are on the same page through a good working relationship.

Your Associates

This is pretty much a no brainer as well. You can most likely see the benefit of solid working relationships with those people you interact with at work on a regular basis.

It’s a wonderful thing to know someone you work with has your back and you have theirs as you navigate your career and work product. These is a direct result of creating and building great relationships with your associates.

Keep open dialogue and a create a sense of teamwork and fun whenever possible.

Your Customers

This could really be included in either in or out of work. Some of us work with internal customers, some of us with external customers.

If you are client facing, then you have to be able to build trustful, advisor-like relationships with them. You want them to see you as a great resource in whatever capacity they are paying you or your company. That is your value to them. This comes from creating those trusting and meaningful relationships.

If your customers are inside your company, it’s super important to create great working relationships with them as well. Being in recruiting I have internal customers (hiring managers) and external customers (candidates).

Outside Of Work


You can have mentors both inside and outside of work. Best case scenario is to have mentors at both.

I like to stay in touch with my favorite bosses of all time. I continue to get advice and direction from them from time to time. They are from previous jobs so they are really outside of my day to day work.

I also have several mentors who do similar work to what I do, but are more senior and therefore more experienced and have some great wisdom. It takes work to maintain these relationships but it is well worth it.

Key Industry Folks

I work in recruiting. There are people at other companies who oversee huge recruiting machines. I like to have strong relationships with some of these folks that I get along well with. That way we are able to offer up advice to each other from time to time. If I am facing a new challenge, I can pick up the phone and call for some input.

There are also some people I’ve developed relationships with over the years who have expertise in a specific area. They are awesome when I need some advice in their area of expertise. Conversely, I can help them from time to time with my expertise.

Vendor Partners

Not all of us work with vendors in our day to day job responsibilities. If you do, it’s well worth building strong relationships with your most important vendor partners.

Not all vendors are great. The ones that are truly invested in helping your company succeed are worth the time to create meaningful relationships with.

In one fashion or another, we are all a vendor to someone. We all have customers. Recognize who helps you succeed with your customers and treat them accordingly.

The Art of Building Relationships

Building relationships is part science and part art. To be an effective relationship builder, you’ve got to genuinely be interested in others. Here are some strategies that can help you build relationships to help you in your career.

We’ve looked at the key groups of people that you should build relationships with. Now let’s take a look at some specific relationship building strategies and ideas.

1. Be Appreciative

One of the foundations of building relationships is being appreciative of everyone you partner with at work. This includes your clients, your boss or bosses, and your fellow coworkers.

Take the time to say thank and be genuinely appreciative of what they have done for you. It might be in the form of incoming revenue from a client, or could be the tips and guidance your boss provides to you. It might be the report or presentation your fellow associate helped you with that helped you land the new client.

Always be appreciative of how others interact with and help you during the course of business.

2. Spend Your Time Wisely

It’s not uncommon for me to try to run in too many differing directions. When I do this, I am not very effective at any of them. When I focus on the most important items, I am much more effective.

This is suggested with relationships as well. Identify the most meaningful relationships you should create and maintain for both your career and others.

Remember, this isn’t a one-sided deal. You have to be a person that someone wants to invest time in to create a solid relationship. Speaking of which…

3. Give as Much as You Get

This is really true in all relationships and it certainly applies here. You have to be able to provide equal value in the relationship.

Maybe you’re a mentor to someone. To your boss, you provide a great work product and that’s some very good value for your boss. You provide insight and value to your clients and customers — whether they are internal or external.

Make sure you take the time and spend the energy to give as much as you get, if not more.

4. Be Social

Work relationships don’t just get created and developed at work. Many times, this happens outside of the building you work in. It can happen over lunch, coffee, and adult beverage, at the gym, and many other places.

Take the time to invite key folks you want to build relationships to lunch or coffee or whatever works. You don’t always have to talk about work topics. Some of the best working relationships get the foundation built outside of the office without talking about work stuff at all.

5. Get out of Your Comfort Zone

It’s one thing to ask a coworker to lunch to start building a relationship. It’s quite another to pick up the phone and call someone you’ve never met because you think they could be a key relationship.

Force yourself to get out of your comfort zone and develop some relationships with people you don’t know.

I have reached out to quite a few people that recruit for the same kind of people in the same industry as me but work at competitors. Unsurprisingly, most of them have ignored me. With several that haven’t ignored me, we’ve built meaningful, referral type relationships.

6. Help Others Succeed

There is probably no better way at building relationships you need to succeed in your career than helping others succeed. This one thing is so powerful it will win you instant relationships. Think about the last time someone you worked with went out of their way to help you in a critical work moment.

I’ve recently joined a new company. I am working on recruiting someone who I believe will be a huge success at the company I am now at. The person that runs the Western half of the US offered to help me. His exact email words were “Let me know if there is anything I can do. I’m more than happy to do what I can to help land this individual”. You can bet he made an instant fan in me.


The ability to build relationships has the power to help you incredibly in your career. There is no one magic technique that creates these partnerships but rather a variety of methods and approaches.

Through the course of this article, we’ve looked at the art of building relationship you need to succeed in your career. Take what works for you and apply it liberally to give your career a significant lift.

Remember, the success you achieve in your career is entirely up to you. When you put the time and energy into building strong work related relationships, you give yourself a huge career boost.

More Resources Related to Work Communication

Featured photo credit: rawpixel via

This article was first published at Lifehack

Nigerian youths need mentors with values to become competitive

By Benjamin Alade

Founder, Thinkation, Ubong King, in this interview with BENJAMIN ALADE, speaks on how Nigerian youths can explore their potentials through creative thinking while giving insights on its second edition of Thinkation. Excerpts:

Can you tell us about Thinkation?

Thinkation is an event positioned to change the paradigm of the mindsets of people, particularly the young people of Africa and especially Nigeria.

It is a word coined out two words, Thinking and Education.

Nigerians are very educated both local and internally but they do not excise themselves in Thinking which leaves them being dependent on others when they have all it takes to attract the world to them.

What propelled the concept ‘Thinkation’ and who are your target audience?

The indices regarding youth growth/population in the country against productivity is not good.

75 per cent of our populations are youths under 45 years, which computes about 135,000,000 youth in a population of 180,000,000 as at 2006 census.

It is reported that 40 per cent of the youth population cannot be employed because they don’t have skill – Please note that there is a difference between education and skill.

So we have so many young people who are educated and not thinking. The target audiences are young people between 18 and 45 years.

Nigeria ranks highest in out of school leavers in the world, what efforts are in place through Thinkation to tackle this?

Entrepreneurship education is the way out. Our curriculum needs to be overhauled to accept that the worlds trend have change.

To keep them in school, we need to give them direction to show them where the world is going and they will be ready to learn.

We also need to improve the quality of our teachers and what they teach to our young minds.

Being the second edition, what sustainability processes are in place to retain the programme?

Content is continually shared on all our platforms and mentoring sessions also hold. Those who show interest grow into mentoring from our platforms and they attend master classes and Mastermind meetings.

Youths are easily carried away especially with social media, which sometimes corrupt their thoughts, how would this forum change the mindset of participants?
Youth follow what you give them, either good or bad.

The attention span of a youth now is nine seconds only so you need to engage then in ways that you can keep them hungry for more.

We need to pass more value content messages to them via this same social networks that they live daily on.

This event will have a lot of stories that they can relate with and also real life scenarios they can hear. The facilitators are not the textbook type.

Even with the ‘Not Too Young To Run’ bill being passed into law, active participation of youths in politics is still low. How would this initiative change the narrative?

It is one thing for a bill to be passed into law and another thing for the actualisation of the activity of the bill.

The question to ask is that are we ready for the responsibility it comes with, have we prepared ourselves to do politics as it should be done. I think we are only 30 per cent ready.

We need to push our understanding of how politics should be done or we will be doing politics like the people we are fighting to leave office.

What were the significant achievements recorded after the first edition?

Many young minds were challenged and some started some progressive activities for themselves. The hunger rate to win in life is more now and it will show for the long term.

What do you see as the greatest challenge confronting youths, especially in Nigeria?

The dependency mindset being fed to us from wrong models and wrong educations techniques.

There are no jobs out there, we should change the curricula to teach our team how to create Jobs and reduce the unemployment quotient. Our youth need mentors with values.

In what ways can the government help in making this dream come to reality?

I believe the government needs to be sincere with their decisions when it comes to strategic development of the community for the mid and long term.

Constant reviews of the Global Competitive index reports should be reviewed and look at areas where we can grow competitively. Then we challenge ourselves to it for a better enabling environment.

Compared to other parts of the globe, would you say youths in these parts have become competitive?

We are way behind but we have more values than youths outside.

How best can youths achieve their potential in this forum?

Through the discipline of mentorship and it must be intentional.

Going forward, what is the future of Thinkation?

I hope it turns into a movement that will drive the soul of our youth to protecting the integrity of our own Nigeria that our fore fathers fought to keep.

What is your expectation for the second edition?

It will be educational and Fun.

Source Guardian Nigeria

Kenya: Let’s tap into our youth’s potential for a stable future

One of the activities in our mentorship programme is psychosocial support session for the mentors, where they sit with a psychologist to talk about their challenges with mentees.

They also share about other challenges in their lives. In one recent session, we discovered that contrary to popular belief; most ghetto youths work hard just to put a meal on the table.

When they say things are hard these days and complain about the cost of living, what they don’t understand is that, “these days” are the only days we know. We’ve never bought bread for any less than we are buying it now, and when things were cheaper, we were under our parent’s arms.

The session made me aware that most of my fellow mentors, myself included, work two, three low paying semi-skilled, unskilled or just plain manual jobs, to make ends meet.

Dan, a fellow mentor shared his story of how busy his days are as he runs between his small business venture and other jobs, and how physically and mentally draining it is for him. Indeed, he has thought about stopping it all and returning to his rural village where he thinks making ends meet would be easier, but being a father he must remain here. He knows his daughter won’t get a good education there.

Galcha on the other hand, belongs to two different youth groups, one that runs a car wash and another that does parking. He talked about how he juggles it all and how some times his shifts collide and he has to run between places because he can’t afford to lose any. This is exhausting and affects his productivity.

I have a day job which I must admit is a privilege compared to most of my peers. It has been a lucky break for me. But, with that exposure come the need for more, hence I am also a student. This is the story for nearly every Kenyan youth today. The need to do more is always amplified in my mind. Hence, the amount of “other jobs” I do is for lack of a better word “crazy”. This sometimes gets me in trouble with my employers and affects my studies.

As I give you these random stories from Majengo and Eastleigh, I would also want you to get to see a bigger picture.

Dan talked about being unable to sleep sometimes, and that he thinks he might be depressed and that’s why he works every day of the week because he feels it helps him. I was once diagnosed with anxiety, which is purely driven by my fear of lacking.

The margins for us are small, which leads us to believe that we can’t stop because stopping means losing the basic needs, hence the hustle then equals survival, and each job or hustle or side hustle pays a certain bill.

And because our jobs don’t need high level skills, you always know that the moment you step out there are 50 other guys in line ready to tap in and maybe even do it better.

Hence, my greatest fear is that, the hand to mouth race is getting us too involved in the here and now, that I fear one day we will wake up being 50 years old and doing the same thing. But I am hopeful because the power of human will is the strongest force on earth. We will make it and we cannot afford to lose hope.

Are the authorities ready to tap into our energy and forge a better future for our youth? It is a challenge I pose to all Kenyans today. We must tap into the various talents and energies that our youth have for a better and more stable future. Let’s do it!

Source – Standard Digital