someone in elementary or middle school. If you have a criminal past and are now a law-abiding citizen, you can help other young people to avoid your mistakes, or show other offenders how to make it while staying on the right side of the law. Any one of us can mentor one of our brothers or sisters still trying to see possibilities beyond the ‘hood. It doesn’t have to take a lot of your time either. Mentorship can be about:
- Offering to be a source of honest, nonjudgmental, no-strings-attached advice
- Helping someone to find a summer job or internship–or better, hiring that person yourself
- Writing a letter of reference for a job, college, or graduate school application
- Helping others to avoid the mistakes you made or take advantage of the opportunities you missed in the past
- Showing them around your place of work
- Agreeing to speak to their class or on their campus
- Taking them to lunch for good (and ideally for them, free) food and conversation
- Connecting them to someone who knows what you don’t know or who has what you can’t give them
- Simply treating someone with the importance they deserve, even if they don’t know how important they are yet
I have done all of these things at one time or another for people, just as there are so many people who have done and continue to do the same for me. I encourage, urge and implore you to do the same. If we all make the commitment to be mentors to others, we’ll all be more likely to find mentors for ourselves when we need them.
Alfred A. Edmond Jr. is the editor-in-chief at BlackEnterprise.com.