Challenge Yourself to be a Mentor

In my mind, each and every person has a collection of potential within them- potential that they, themselves, are not aware that they have. As a mentor, I make it my objective to listen to a person’s interests, hopes, and goals. I then create activities that really target those areas to discover and build that potential that lies within to become real skills that my mentee can apply daily.

Over the past eight weeks I have had the pleasure of working with Kennedy, a local Evanston middle school student, as her mentor through a partnership between Acquirent and the Youth Organizations Umbrella, Inc. Y.O.U. is a youth development agency that provides services and leadership to meet the emerging needs of young people and their families in our community.

Working in a sales position, it is difficult to imagine a middle school student getting excited about sales- so I took a different approach. Kennedy was interested in business and marketing, so we decided to create a fundraiser and to raise awareness about an issue that matters to her. In the end, Kennedy decided to market a cause and sell a product to support her cause.

Our 8 weeks were well spent. Kennedy decided that she was interested in supporting the Greater Chicago Food Depository. Over time we developed content, gathered facts, created imagery and designed shirts to sell. Kennedy took off on her web design once I introduced the interface to her, and before long we had three things:

1. A website to raise awareness about hunger. http://shatsmananna.wix.com/kennedy
2. A donation page. http://www.booster.com/donations/kennedytakesonhungerCHI
3. A page selling shirts that Kennedy designed herself. http://www.booster.com/kennedytakesonhunger

When people think about a potential mentor, they assume that the mentors are great at everything. I was guilty of that as well, but as I worked in the mentor role, I realized that mentors are targeted; they are exceptionally great at something- not everything. And even though I have acted in the mentor role on multiple occasions, I still have weaknesses, and I still have skills that I can continue to hone.

As much as Kennedy got out of the experience as the mentee, I learned a lot as the mentor as well, and I was reminded why it is important to step into that role. I learned more about my own strengths and weaknesses as a teacher and got to work through the weaknesses by trial and error. Mentees not only bring new ideas to the table that I can translate to my own future endeavors, but they also can take a new approach to the project at hand that sometimes end up working better than the mentor’s approach. When we were putting the website together, Kennedy thought of adding a short animation in the opening part of the website rather than forcing people to read a paragraph that I suggested. The animation is not only fun for people to watch, but it taught me to take a creative approach.

I encourage people to challenge themselves and step into a mentor role. It may not be the most comfortable or easy thing to do, but it becomes an unforgettable growth experience for both parties.

At the Y.O.U. Discovery Night, where all of the students presented their projects and talked about their experiences, one of the students said something that will stick with me forever: “What we are doing here is more than the project. We are creating life connections and partnerships that will last long after this program.”[/fusion_text][one_third last=”no” spacing=”yes” center_content=”no” hide_on_mobile=”no” background_color=”” background_image=”” background_repeat=”no-repeat” background_position=”left top” border_position=”all” border_size=”0px” border_color=”” border_style=”” padding=”” margin_top=”” margin_bottom=”” animation_type=”” animation_direction=”” animation_speed=”0.1″ class=”” id=””][imageframe lightbox=”no” lightbox_image=”” style_type=”dropshadow” hover_type=”none” bordercolor=”” bordersize=”0px” borderradius=”0″ stylecolor=”” align=”center” link=”” linktarget=”_self” animation_type=”0″ animation_direction=”down” animation_speed=”0.1″ hide_on_mobile=”no” class=”” id=””] [/imageframe][/one_third][two_third last=”yes” spacing=”yes” center_content=”no” hide_on_mobile=”no” background_color=”” background_image=”” background_repeat=”no-repeat” background_position=”left top” border_position=”all” border_size=”0px” border_color=”” border_style=”” padding=”” margin_top=”” margin_bottom=”” animation_type=”” animation_direction=”” animation_speed=”0.1″ class=”” id=””][fusion_text]Ana Shatsman joined Acquirent in 2014, quickly gaining the respect of her peers and management, winning Rookie of the Year 2014. She brings passion, focus, drive and grit to her sales position every day and makes time to help others through her volunteer work at Imermen Angels and the Y.O.U. Mentor Program.[/fusion_text][/two_third][/fullwidth]