According to Taylor Twomey, YES program coordinator, Adult Mentoring is one aspect of the YES program. The program is used to help local underserved youth ages 17-21 connect with career professionals.
There are currently nine counties being served by the YES program: Bledsoe, Bradley, Hamilton, Marion, McMinn, Meigs, Polk, Rhea and Sequatchie.
According to Twomey, Hamilton County appears to have the most mentors. Mentors from Bradley County are being encouraged to join the program.
“Students will trust professionals from their community more readily than they would some random person,” Twomey said.
“Local professionals know the businesses and opportunities of the town.”
The YMCA is connected with students in the YES program through the Tennessee Career Center. The goal is to help these students make a smooth transition to the career field.
Twomey said a beneficial professional relationship will aid students in their career decision.
“Say you have Tom, Jane, and Sally who are all interested in being mentored. Jane wants to be a writer, Tom a banker, and Sally a veterinarian,” Twomey said.
“We would then match up the mentors with the mentees based on [the mentor’s] profession.”
Mentors are encouraged to offer interview prep, resume assistance, and job shadowing. Shadowing provides students an understanding of the industry.
The program is designed to allow mentees to accompany mentors to appropriate networking events, business meetings, and community events.
Mentees and mentors must meet at least once a month for one hour. These meetings must occur in a public place. Examples given are restaurants, coffee shops, office buildings, or school. Mentors are not allowed to transport students in their cars.
“The requirements outlined on the information sheet are not so much what has to be done as it is a guideline for the bare minimum,” Twomey said.
“If mentors and mentees want to keep it strictly professional, then they can follow the sheet. They are not discouraged from being friends.”
Twomey cited a mentor attending a mentee’s basketball game as an example of appropriate and casual behavior.
Relations between the student and professional must be comfortable enough to allow the student to ask questions. Mentors are encouraged to spend more than the requisite hour with their mentee each month.
According to Twomey, a mentor may sign up in August and receive a student in November. Mentors are encouraged to join at any time due to the continual influx and outflux of participants.
“I want a diverse group of people because if there are two guys from the same industry, I will be able to match the student up with the one he will get along with the best,” Twomey said.
Mentees must attend all required workshops and meet with their chosen mentor for 12 consecutive months. They will graduate from the program once they meet both requirements. There is not a designated graduation date, due to the program’s fluid nature. A student who begins in March would be scheduled to end in February.
Twomey encourages the involvement of Cleveland professionals.
“It feels great to help others. You never know, maybe this student will turn out to be your new favorite person,” Twomey said.
“It’s not asking a lot, but if you are there for them and guiding them then you can really change their life.”
A mentor and student may keep in contact after graduation if both parties so desire. For more information, call Twomey at 423-266-3766 ext 274 or email email@example.com.