Half of recent college graduates are working as waiters or waitresses, bartenders, or baristas. Sure, some of these unemployed or underemployed grads should've examined industry outlooks several years ago, pursued degrees in nursing, accounting, or computer science, and reserved their passion for anthropology, art history, or the humanities as a hobby.
However, half of recent grads were successful in starting their careers. How were these recent graduates able to find good work? Extracurricular activities during school? Maybe. A few completed internships? Probably. A professional mentor? Definitely.
Recent graduates keeping their heads above water in a discouraging job market certainly owe their success to determination and hard work, but also to mentors they've encountered along their journeys. I know because I owe much of my success today to my mentors.
Here's how professional mentors can help young professionals combat unemployment:
By Offering Overwhelming Support And Motivation
When I was still in college, a man by the name of Tom Antion took me under his wing and brought me on full-time at his company. In less than a year of working with Antion I was equipped with the knowledge and support to start my own venture. Professional mentors have the same impact on young professionals as to what Boy Scout leaders and little league coaches have on a child. They offer overwhelming support and motivation to help mold young professionals into who they will become, and in a tough job market, they're prepared to keep them positive and motivated through job searches, interviews, rejections, and successes.
By Helping Decide How Quickly To Grow
As mentioned, I was only with Antion for a year, yet he gave his blessing and encouragement when I opted to move to LA to start Ciplex. Mentors have usually encountered the same experiences young professional will soon face. They have first-hand stories on how they overcame obstacles, or how they failed. Because of these experiences, they can help new professionals determine what steps to take in their career, and can offer support when it is time to make a big step in a new direction.
By Unselfishly Sharing Personal Stories
As hard as it is sometimes, we can't be all work and no play. Mentors can alleviate some stress of figuring out how to balance a budget, a full-time job, paying off debt, buying a house, starting a family, all while being a successful professional. By sharing their own personal stories, professional mentors build personal relationships with their mentee. That relationship is worth it's weight in gold.
By Teaching What They've Learned
With Gen Y being branded as unmotivated, disrespectful workers, these young professionals need to constantly aim to break the mold. I've worked or networked with many of these young professionals who are the hard working, ambitious kind -- just like I was when I started my company at 17. Mentors see beyond the everyday lazy young person, recognize the hard workers, and share the lessons they've learned to better prepare young professionals in their careers.
There are many great solutions and movements focused on helping to end unemployment for today's young people. #StartupLab, launching Labor Day weekend, is a great example offering a free virtual mentorship program for our top young statups. The message is clear: mentors are essential for combating unemployment and underemployment among today's young workers and can make those hard earned college degrees seem like they were worth it again.
Do you think mentors are vital to combat unemployment among recent graduates? Why or why not?