Workplace Mentoring – A Push in a New Direction

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Hello fellow blog readers! I’m Farrah, one of the many wonderful interns here at Big Brothers Big Sisters of the 7 Rivers Region (BBBS) this summer. As a marketing intern, I like to keep the community up to date on things going on inside and outside of our office (with a crafty and creative flare of course, otherwise it’s like reading the classifieds in the newspaper – unless you’re my parents and like that sort of thing).

But anywho, this week I wanted to share with you all about how BBBS is looking at new ways to reach out to community members to consider becoming a Big! Last week, I was given the opportunity to travel with Justin, the Director of Program Services, to local powerhouse company Trane to speak with employees about a new program BBBS is starting this fall.

See, BBBS has much gratitude for the generous donations and sponsorships that aid in the organizing of events, but what was lacking was a solid relationship between BBBS and these local companies. An initiative starting on the East Coast, BBBS agencies partner with large corporations in their area to basically mass-recruit volunteers to work with schools in order to introduce kids to the corporate world. Children would get a firsthand look at what it means to work for a corporation and potentially inspire new career paths and life goals.

BBBS of the 7 Rivers Region has a similar model working with the University of Wisconsin- La Crosse and local elementary schools, where college students can give insight on pursuing a higher level of education. The only downside is that college students typically move up and out of the area after they graduate, thus resulting in constant turnover of volunteers. We deeply appreciate the willingness of these young adults to volunteer don’t get me wrong; it’s just that now, our agency wants to build on this model to develop more consistency and a deeper relationship with local corporations.

It’s called Workplace Mentoring – a program specifically tailored to a company, where children would be matched in one-on-one mentoring relationships with company employees who, through structured program activities, help guide and map out the children’s futures. With Trane, they will be partnered with students from a local elementary school to meet weekly during their lunch hour. Matches would enjoy lunch together, play games, and hopefully grow strong and meaningful relationships.

When we asked some of the employees what they knew about BBBS, the majority of the responses resonated around just spending some time with a child – which is absolutely true in the most basic terms. Yet what individuals forget to acknowledge sometimes are the benefits for the child they mentor and what the individual can gain personally from the match. For the child, it’s an opportunity to interact with a positive role model. It gives the child confidence in themselves and other aspects of their life. A child with a mentor can raise school attendance and grades, help form stronger relationships with family and friends, and reduce risky behavior. For the adult, it’s knowing there’s someone that looks up to them and respects them, and knowing they are helping a child succeed.

The goal for workplace mentoring is one: ultimately to serve the children; two: to build stronger relationships with these companies; and three: for the employees to gain a greater understanding of what BBBS does and the positive impact they could have in a child’s life. Hopefully in seeing this, employees are more willing to become or continue to serve as Bigs, partake in BBBS events and understand that their donations are making an investment in the development of the next generation of leaders.