Mentoring is a great way to volunteer and make a large impact on someone’s life. Mentors can cultivate communication and organizational skills, increase empathy and understanding of others, develop resilience and learn from their mentees. For the mentee, mentoring offers a reliable, trusted friend who they can feel comfortable seeking help from, or just talking with. January is National Mentoring Month, making it the perfect time to become a mentor or mentee.
There are many foundations, companies and other programs that offer volunteer mentoring opportunities, but it can be challenging to find one that is a good fit for you. However, the website Mentor makes it easy to find mentoring opportunities by entering your zip code. It also allows for filtering preferences, such as distance, the type of mentoring, focus subject, specific youth (example: LGBTQ+, gang-related, gifted, foster care, etc.) and age range. For example, within 5 miles of Bellevue College, there are 40 mentoring programs available.
Mentoring can also be done through the comfort of BC. The multicultural center offers the MCS Connects Mentoring Program, which helps student mentees achieve academic and personal goals and build their self-esteem and support network. This program allows for both peer and staff mentors. Peer mentors must be current BC students who have a GPA of at least 2.5, have completed at least 45 credits and can work for up to six hours per week for a full academic year. These mentors would be serving at most three mentees per quarter and would have to serve as teachers, guides, counselors, motivators, advisors or referral agents. Peer mentors should be supportive, patient and respectful. Staff mentors act as professional mentoring support. They need to be current BC faculty or staff and able to meet with a mentee once a month for a whole academic year. The MCS Connects Mentoring Program also helps students become mentees. According to the MCS Mentoring Program, “students who have mentors have higher GPAs and are more likely to graduate “on time”, and transfer to a university or attain gainful employment.” Mentees have to commit to attending all meetings and following their mentor’s guidelines for one academic year.
BC offers mentoring programs for teachers as well. For example, the Adjunct Mentoring Program allows for mentee faculty to get at least 6 hours of professional development working with a cohort to strengthen and grow the faculty community. During the fall quarter, the program provided one-on-one mentoring, but this quarter, the program is offering virtual teaching talks. These talks involve sharing concerns, techniques and strategies with experienced instructors.
For those who are non-students, the STEM to Stern program is seeking STEM mentors to help prepare students for the workplace by sharing experiences and advice. This program also allows you to be a guest speaker, panelist or cluster leader.
BC’s Neurodiversity Navigators has a peer mentor job which is perfect for college juniors or seniors who are planning to enter a field working with neurodivergent people. This is a paid mentoring job where you would be working 12 to 15 hours a week, which can be used for internship credit or work-study recipients. Although it is challenging, it is also very rewarding. The hiring process for this opportunity began in January for the upcoming summer and fall quarters.
Mentoring is a mutually beneficial relationship for both the mentee and the mentor. Whether you are seeking to become a mentor or a mentee, there are opportunities for you to achieve your desired outcome.