7 Tips for Young Professionals, from Experienced Volunteer Mentors

January is National Mentoring Month, a time to highlight the impact caring adults can have in the lives of young people. United Way’s mentoring programs vary, from improving student success in school, to promoting healthy eating and physical activity, to guiding young adults into a successful career. Here is some advice from United Way volunteers who mentor young professionals.

  1. Ask questions. Don’t be embarrassed to ask questions about everything you need to know. If you don’t understand an assignment, ask for clarification. It benefits everyone when you complete a task the right way; the only way to get it right is to ask questions.
  2. Be present and patient. In every new job, there is a learning curve. The first few weeks will likely be exhausting and overload you with information. Recognize it takes time to adjust and make sure you take notes, listen, observe and participate. 
  3. Set your schedule. Time management is a valuable skill. Make use of an electronic or paper-based day planner to help organize, prioritize and schedule your day. Doing so creates a visual reminder of the assignments important to you and how much time you have to complete them.
  4. Build your network. Networking is a valuable strategy at every stage of your career. Get to know as many experienced professionals as you can – you never know who might be the one to help build your professional reputation and advance your career.
  5. Take leadership roles early on. Don’t be afraid to lead initiatives. Joining a workplace committee or leading a pilot project will add variety to your work, give you an opportunity to influence decisions, expand your knowledge and build your network.
  6. Study how your role affects the larger picture. Getting bogged down in the daily grind can be a challenge. Create your own mission statement about your role and how it affects the work of your organization or company. Write it down and place it where you can see as a reminder of the impact of your role.
  7. Don’t be afraid to fail. There is always something to learn from failure, and always room for improvement. Take each failure as learning opportunity and ask yourself, “What can I do better next time?”

What is your advice for young professionals to thrive in their roles? Add them in the comments below.