Every year Starfish hosts its annual College and Career Fair, exposing Scholars to local professionals, mock interviews, colleges and more. Every year it gets bigger and better and offers more for Scholars to discuss.
As proud as we are that this event now provides more meaningful content to the Starfish family, we continue to believe the reason these events can be so meaningful is due to the individual support that Mentors provide during and afterward. It is easy for Scholars to simply go through the motions or experience information overload. If your scholar will be a first generation college student, the information might be too abstract for them to see themselves using it. As someone who has successfully navigated the waters of college and career, you may be able to make sense of the event’s information without trouble because you have already experienced it, whereas to your Scholar it can still seem pretty murky.
As a Mentor you can help your Scholar process this information and what it means for them. The power of 1-on-1 mentoring is that you can discover what abstract concepts need to be made concrete. However, helping a teenager process new information can be difficult, so here are a few questions that can help you dig underneath the surface and uncover their dreams, priorities, or anxieties:
- Tell me more about which colleges (or careers) interested you.
- What is it about that college (or career) that stood out?
- So it sounds like _______ (some factor) is important to you. Why is that?
- What stood out the most in the workshop?
- Tell me more about that…
- Why do you think that is important?
These conversations might uncover a life experience that your Scholar has so far gone without, but would otherwise benefit from. Some examples might be a particular job shadowing experience, visiting a certain type of college, or how to grocery shop with only $50 for the week. Think about ways to give your Scholar concrete experiences around these topics, some of which you’ll find in your Mentor Handbook. Of course, your Match Specialist would love to help you brainstorm more ideas.
These techniques work well for our own College and Career Fair, but also for every day mentoring. Any time you can work to make distant concepts into an understandable reality, you teach your Scholar a valuable skill for life.