As a Work-Link Mentor, you are a valuable resource to your mentee(s). As a guide, counsellor, and friend, you inspire and facilitate academic, career, and personal achievements. The developmental transitions faced by young people in each of these areas should be enriched by your experience, wisdom, and guidance.
Your role as a Work-Link Mentor is a mix of friend and teacher. Relationships developed with your mentees become channels for the passage of information, advice, challenges, opportunities, and support, with the ultimate goals of facilitating achievement, having fun and reducing the opportunities for unnecessary and/or costly mistakes.
How is this accomplished? There are probably as many mentoring styles as there are personality types, and no one can be everything to one person. Each mentee benefits from contact with several mentors. The challenge and fun of mentoring is developing your own personal style for sharing the special strengths and skills you have to offer.
To get started as a mentor:
- Introduce yourself by email or if the mentee requests it use other computer mediated communication such as Skype and get to know each of your mentees. Mention personal, career, and education interests, disability, and your own involvement with the vocational area that the mentor is interested in.
- Explore interests with mentees by asking questions, promoting discussion, and providing resources (especially those accessible on the Internet).
- Signpost contact between mentees and people with shared interests or resources (e.g. professionals, other agencies, employers).
- Remember that developing meaningful relationships takes time. Give yourself and your mentee ample room to get to know each other.
All Work-link Mentors are volunteers. The following are some guidelines to follow when engaging with you mentee..
- Log on at least once per fortnight and read and respond to electronic mail messages or other form of computer mediated communication that has been agreed with the mentee.
- Respond to every personal message sent to you by participants or Work-Link Mentors staff.
- Communicate with other mentors; act as a resource when possible.
Follow these electronic guidelines.
- Be respectful of your mentees and their communication/personality styles. Ask if there is a way to accommodate them in the way you communicate.
- Avoid covering several topics in one message. Instead, send several messages so the receiver can respond to each topic separately.
- Use mixed upper- and lower-case letters. Avoid using control characters or special keys.
- Unless you have been advised that your mentee has requested anonymity, begin the text of your message with the real name of the person to whom you’re writing, and end the text with your real name.
- Include all or parts of a mail message to which you are replying.
- Do not use words others might find offensive, and avoid personal attacks or name calling.
- Do not participate in conversations that would not be acceptable to the parents of your mentee and/or staff. Remember that some program participants are minors.
- Do not engage in conversations that you are not comfortable with. Immediately report offensive or troubling electronic mail messages that you receive to firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Remember that an electronic mail message is easy for recipients to forward to others and, therefore, is not appropriate for very personal messages—it’s more like a postcard than a sealed letter.
- Take advantage of the spell check feature.
- Review what you’ve written BEFORE you send it.
Keeping Our Young People Safe
The Internet is a sea filled with adventure. By sailing the waters we can explore the world, unlock mysteries, and meet new people. But like any sea, it has dangerous elements as well. Safety is an important issue for anyone using the Internet but even more so for minors. It is important that we teach our young people how to identify potential danger and avoid it.
Participants are told not to give out personal information to people they do not already know and not to respond to electronic messages that they receive from anyone if they are not comfortable with the content. They should immediately report offensive or troubling electronic mail messages to their parents if under 18 or to Work-Link Mentors.
For more information about the safety of minors on the Internet we suggest you read Kids’ Rules for Online Safety, published at SafeKids.com, http://www.safekids.com/kidsrules.htm.
Acknowledgment: These guidelines were adapted from the DO-IT publication DO-IT Mentors: Helping Young People Prepare for Their Future at http://www.washington.edu/doit/Brochures/Programs/mentoring.html.