Mentors, sponsors, coaches, advisors. Whatever the term, these roles have become ubiquitous in modern professional America. Everyone wants at least one, sometimes more. But why is this?
American education does not teach you to have a job or to succeed in the workplace. At best, college typically teaches you some specific skills (writing, programming, art, etc.) you can use in a job. But there is no training in how to work with others, how to run an effective meeting, or how to write a status report. Schools don’t teach people how to interview peers or employees.
At the same time, fewer teens and traditional full time college students are working summer jobs. A 2018 CNBC article found that both fewer students are working summer jobs (58% did in 1978; dropping to 35% in 2016) and that since 1985 the number of students going to summer school has grown from 10.4% to more than 42.1% in 2016. So fewer people are learning how to be employees and succeed in the workforce as workers in these traditional starter experiences. For an increasing percentage of employees, their first substantial work experience is after graduation.
Meanwhile, the higher level skills of how to develop yourself towards promotion, how to navigate a corporate hierarchy, and how to choose the right next role or job are left completely to the individual to figure out on her own. Little surprise then, that employees express an endless appetite for more feedback and career investment to their managers and HR departments. An October, 2018 article in Forbes on the benefits of Upskilling for Employers found that “87% of millennials prioritized professional or career growth and development opportunities in a job,” compared to only 69% of other generations.
All of this has created an appetite for mentors and mentorship. In short, I find that employees at all levels are hungry for more input on how to design and grow their careers. These questions run from the very tactical about internal promotion process or compensation to the very broad.
On a local level, I’m trying to address a small part of this problem via live, interactive coaching using Twitch as a conduit to reach large numbers while retaining the interactive Q&A of a one-to-one coaching experience. However, I have no illusion that any one person could meet this massive need, so I write in hopes that other leaders will invest in a similar way. Meanwhile, if you want to see how I’m approaching the problem, or recommend it to one of the many in search of further career development input, please see my EZ Coach website.