05/25/2013 07:32 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

How-To Make Your Mentor Matter

Students are graduating. Hard-won college diplomas are being handed out with hearty handshakes and heartfelt wishes for successful careers.

Graduation, among its many other formal functions, gives oldsters - like me - opportunities to pontificate. It's mass mentorship.

Like any bad mentorship situation, one person talks; the other patiently or impatiently listens. If you've been either a parent or a child (either a teacher or a student), you know what I mean.

Happily, most students know there is a better way. Find a mentor who gets you, who cares about you, who hears you.

To learn the subtleties of finding (and managing!) a good mentor, check out How-To Make Your Mentor Matter:

As a Lecturer at the University of California, last week I clapped for and celebrated with the Blum Center for Developing Economies' graduating class of 2013. If you know one of these graduating college students, then you understand why teaching is a privilege. It's like holding a bunch of lottery tickets with gigantic payouts for economic justice, clean air and water, political freedom, economic opportunity and gender equality.

From this generation -- the Millennial Generation - I've learned that social justice work is not just something you do on the weekends. It's not a hobby. It's a career commitment.

According to a Net Impact study, 60% of Millennials would take a pay cut to work for an organization whose values reflect their own. How impressive is that?

What really turns me on about students these days is not what they know, but how and why they know it. They are collaborative. They are racially colorblind. They are global. They are at once realistic and idealistic. They use their heads to move with their hearts.

For my part, I've sworn off mentoring. Instead, I'm culling this generation for future colleagues and friends.

If anything, those of us with power, money and influence could use an infusion of up-mentoring from the Millennial Generation. We all need to re-learn that optimism, idealism, commitment, status quo disruption, global citizenship and truth-telling are still bedrock prerequisites for social change.