I received a call from an accredited United Way agency here in Toronto that works with immigrant youth 19-25. I believe this organization reaches out to the business community to connect under-privileged kids with the industry they are interested in, in this case animation and broadcast graphics.
I checked out the company and it sounds legit, so I asked them to fax me an agreement form. I am potentially going to commit to 2 hours a week, which can be conducted via email or phone, for 16 weeks.
Has anyone participated in a structured mentor program like this? Can we start a dialogue to see if it's a pain the butt, or am I right in thinking this might be a break for a kid.
Discrete Editors COW Leader
I would probably take a drive down there and talk to some of the coordinators. I think you will get a better idea of who they are and what objectives they have for their participants. I also believe that mentoring is one of the best ways we professionals can contribute our time. Anyone can walk in a fun run or help out at the local food bank, but we have a unique set of skills that can point a person in a new exciting direction. If you are committed to giving your time, you should at least feel that the organization is willing to do the same in making sure you get the support from them and that the program has some guidelines and stated objectives.
Go have a talk with them.
Tilt Media Inc.
We've participated in some mentoring programs through our city school system. Are they a pain in the butt? Sometimes. It really depends on the kid they send our way. These are high school seniors doing what amounts to an internship to see how the business world works. They spend 6 or 8 weeks working with us for a half day 2 or 3 times a week. Some of the kids were great...jumping right into helping on shoots, learning to edit radio spots, learning to log and capture footage, archive tapes etc. Others...well...the best that can be said is they showed up. They had NO enthusiasm, couldn't communicate with anyone, had no initiative, and were pretty much useless. They would end up sitting at a desk for 3 hours reading a book or doing their homework most of the time.
We've had the same experience using college age interns. Some are great (we've ended up hiring a couple); others are awful...becoming more of a burden on our time than a help to it.
Magnetic Image, Inc.
Hi! Long-time reader, first-time poster!
I just wanted to give y'all a short little insight to my experience as a mentor-ee.
My program was a wee bit different than the one Rick is describing, but it was a mentor ship, none-the-less.
21 years ago I was very good high school student, but I was bored bored bored with my classes. One teacher noticed, and suggested I apply for this program. In order to be accepted, one had to be a good student, but moving in a direction that the high school wasn't equipped to facilitate. For example, we had 2 girls who had mentor ships in chemical engineering, and one that went to the big zoo and worked with the dolphins. This wasn't "work study".
I originally wanted to edit film. I was enthralled with the tactile experience of physically cutting film. Alas, even in the late 1980's, that sort of film editing was hard to find in our area. So they decided for me that television was close enough. I was a little disappointed, but it certainly made sense.
Anyway, to cut to the end of the story. I ended up being paired with a guy at the local cable station at first, with the intention of moving me to the CBS affiliate when they felt that I had enough background. The guy at the cable station took to mentoring me like nobody's business, and I ended up staying there for the full year. I don't think I would have gotten nearly as much education from the affiliate. Having worked at a TV station since, I know how fast things move, and how much time there isn't to stop and explain oneself.
I truly believe it's the reason that I stuck with my video production major in college (although I toyed with another major, and ended up with a double major). After graduation and a 3-month internship, I worked my way up the ranks, through three companies, before starting my own business nearly 9 years ago.
All this time, my mentor has been a good friend and a valued resource. Still, we keep in touch, and I consider him one of my oldest (longest) and dearest friends.
He continued to mentor a few kids after me, but eventually got out of it when he started working on his HTML skills. He's no longer in the business, but is very supportive of me and my business. We've even worked together professionally in the past several years.
Man, I think I should give him a call!!
Thanks for letting me share my story!
I agree that having a great mentor makes a big difference. My mentor was during college, a time when I was supposed to be learning from professors and class work. But, no offense to my former university, there were not enough advanced learning opportunities at the time. Thus, my mentor was the tv studio technician. He took me under his wing, teaching me about the technical side of running a tv studio - something not taught to students. A few of his gems of wisdom included:
1. If you can run a switcher, you can learn just about anything.
2. Always look at the back of a piece of equipment before you start using it. (with apologies to the employees of Best Buy and Costco)
3. F#@k the Truck - in other words, know which end of a long cable goes to the camera.
4. You can move a light, you can't move a wall socket. In other words, keep the slack with the fixture, not the wall.
5. Your future employers will be impressed that you can read a waveform and vectorscope. (This skill came in quite handy in the early days of timing online edit systems. While it has been some time since I had to set the subcarrier phase on a Betacam deck, I still keep those little tweakers handy)
Probably more where those came from.
In my own career I have tried to mentor those employees who were willing to learn. One guy continued calling me for advice long after he left the company - and invented a word for my tips and tricks - Cohengenuity!
So in summary, if you have an opportunity to mentor someone, go for it. Just hope you are getting someone who wants to be mentored.
There are some wonderful responses in this thread, and then there will be mine. ;o)
As many here in this thread, I love mentoring people who really want to learn. But as Chris, Mike and others point out, it's really frustrating trying to teach anything to a person that isn't listening, has the drive and ambition of a ground slug and won't do anything, could care less about achieving anything, and just showed up because it's some kind of class that they have to take. In those situations, I keep the good students and throw back the others.
We had a situation like that just yesterday, with a great student coming over and spending the day with us. I had many important things that I could have been doing but instead, I spent the entire day going over things with this person. Why? Because it's clear they are listening and the guy is married and has kids. He wants to succeed and anything I teach him will be burned into this guy's brain and I guarantee that he'll use it. So my time isn't wasted, it is invested and I am happy to do it.
But in my life when I get the ones that are clearly just taking up molecular space and are using up my local air space without contributing a thing, I respectfully tell them that they don't need to come back. I have let teachers and others know that I am not interested in the ones that don't care and so they won't find me a willing mentor to those kinds of people. I will send them back. But for those that do care and are trying to get ahead in life -- those kinds of people are the ones of whom I am their greatest fan.