We make a living by what we get. We make a life by what we give. – Winston Churchill
Everyone can be great, because everyone can serve. – Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
Henry and I believe giving back should be a high priority for any successful person. We should always be willing to lend a hand when someone is down, and always be looking to help when someone is in need. In particular, Henry and I are passionate about educating the masses on success in the workplace and personal finance. Education has to start at a young age; it is hard to be flexible about your thoughts as you age.
Last year, I got involved in volunteering through “The Development Network”, a program my company has which enables employees to develop their leadership and professional skills. Some activities I participated in have included personality tests and a few presentations on communication skills. What I want to talk about in this post though, is the BestPrep eMentor program my company participates in.
BestPrep, a non-profit organization founded in 1976 in Minnesota, looks to prepare high school students for the workforce. They have 6 different programs students can participate in:
- Classroom Plus
- Financial Matters
- Minnesota Business Venture
- The Stock Market Game™
- Technology Integration Workshop
I have been an eMentor for 2 years. The eMentors program is a 6 week long program where you are essentially pen pals with a student at a local high school. The student writes you once a week with questions like, “Where did you go to school? How do you problem solve in the workplace? What tips do you have for me in college? What tips do you have for me when I’m performing my job search?” etc. In the middle of the 6 weeks, there is a meet and greet where the students and eMentors meet up and chat face to face. This allows the students and eMentors to put a face to a name, but also gives both parties a great experience to connect with each other.
Today was my meet and greet day. I went down to one of our corporate offices in a local suburb and all the kids from the class came and met their eMentors.
Let’s take a step back. When the “Development Network” email came, my hometown high school was listed as one of the schools I could be an eMentor for. I jumped at it immediately. In addition, the class was a programming class. I was so excited! I currently program about 50% of each day at my day job, and being able to influence and help students would be a great experience.
Snap back to today, when my mentee walked in, the conversation started slow. I could tell he was similar to me; I’m naturally quiet and reserved. When I was in school, I didn’t talk much, but was constantly thinking. Once the conversation started flowing, we were weaving through multiple topics: programming, computers, college, jobs, side hustles, video games, basketball, friends, etc.
I was very impressed with his preparation in his life: he had been around programming his whole life, had built a computer, and wanted to get a computer science degree to follow in the footsteps of his father. I then mentioned to him about my side hustle of real estate, and mentioned there is more to life than getting a W2 from a company.
Believe it or not, I think that idea stuck most for him! He went up at the end of the class and gave a short thank you speech to all the eMentors and mentioned he really enjoyed our conversation, particularly about making money outside of a 9 to 5 job, i.e. side hustling and the tax benefits of owning your own business or investing in tax efficient vehicles. Mission Accomplished!
I was amazed by his intelligence, and I was extremely pleased to connect with him at a deeper level than I have been able to with other high school students. Many young people have a mindset of “I know”, and it isn’t until you switch your mindset to “I may not know” or “I don’t know” (see Think Like a Freak (book review)), that you will experience tremendous growth!
Strive to say “I don’t know” more often. Saying “I know” when you really don’t won’t help you in most cases.
I’m excited to finish out the 6 weeks and continue to help this young student. I’m excited to see where he will go in his life; it seems he has a great future ahead of him. He has experience with programming, an excellent family, is able to problem solve, and also seems to be stable in his emotions. I always wonder if I would hire someone who I mentored. Have you had experience with this?
If you live in Minnesota, please consider volunteering for BestPrep. It is a fantastic organization which helps many students each year. If you company is already partnered with them, it should be easy to get involved. The eMentor program is 6 weeks of emailing and 1 2-hour meet and greet. The time commitment is low, but the impact is high! Let’s go out and make a difference!!
What are your thoughts on giving back? Are you currently volunteering your time? Do you prefer to donate money or give your time? Have you ever mentored someone and then hired them?