Emerging research suggests youth mentoring can help young people find work early in their careers.
Although mentoring is known to improve mental health and help kids stay in school, until now, relatively little was known about youth mentoring and career opportunities.
Investigators found that after being mentored, youth were able to accept more responsibility and develop autonomy, ultimately putting them on a path to more financially and personally rewarding careers.
“We wanted to look at the long-term impacts on mentees in naturally occurring mentorship relationships, rather than participants in formal mentorship programs,” said Steve McDonald, Ph.D..
“And we found that having a mentor provides a clear benefit well into their working lives.”
The research is published online in the American Journal of Community Psychology.
For the study, researchers evaluated data from the National Longitudinal Survey of Adolescent Health, which asked more than 12,000 people in their teens and early 20s if they had ever had a mentor.
Six years later, those young people were surveyed again and asked about their work.
Investigators then used a model that compared people from nearly identical backgrounds in which the only difference was whether they had a mentor.
“People from socioeconomically advantaged backgrounds are more likely to have mentors,” McDonald said.
“We wanted to find a way to determine which professional benefits stem from mentorship, as opposed to benefits that came from socioeconomic advantages.”
The researchers then examined how these different groups fared in the job market.
“We found that overall employment and compensation were about the same,” said Joshua Lambert, co-author of the paper and a Ph.D. student at North Carolina State University.
“But people who had mentors when they were younger had greater ‘intrinsic’ job rewards.”
Intrinsic job rewards are things like authority and autonomy, which make work more personally fulfilling.
“The findings imply that mentees learn to place a higher value on jobs with more intrinsic rewards, and those same characteristics are associated with long-term career success,” McDonald said.