7a2iii. RECRUITMENT - Mentor Recruitment: Best Practices cont'd

What Are Youth Looking For? cont'd

Additionally, semi-structured, individual qualitative interviews completed with former/current youth in care for the purposes of this resource, elicited the following characteristics youth would like to see in a mentor:

  • Passion, including an emotional investment in their mentee
  • “The number one quality … to be an excellent mentor is passion. Like that passion has to be directed in the right way, but ultimately, you have to have that emotional investment in your work to want to see it through to the end.”
    (Participant, Youth Focus Group)

  • Inspiration, motivation, positivity, particularly when directed toward challenges in their care environment, academic or vocational goals, or the youth’s sense of identity
  • "They were just sorta that person where, if my self-esteem was low, they could give me a boost … Like a shot of self-esteem, and then she’d send me back out in the world again, and when my self-esteem was low again, I’d come back.”
    (Participant, Youth Focus Group)

  • Humble and teachable, yet a capable adult who can serve as a role model
  • “The one thing I really appreciated about the mentors that I have now, and in the past is that they were teachable, they were people who were willing to learn more, willing to accept that their perspective wasn’t the only one.”
    (Participant, Youth Focus Group)

  • In balance with a desire for a mentor who is positive and inspirational, some youth also desired that their mentor be “realistic about potential accomplishments, and honest, even if that meant sharing difficult truths.
  • “A lot of the time, your friends don’t want to tell you the hard truth. They kind of just want to please you, and tell you the things that they know that you want to hear. A mentor is more like a guidance, or like since you look up to, they also, like they’re not going to just let you hear whatever you just want to hear. They’re going to tell you the truth … They’re going to make sure you know the reality of what’s going on.”
    (Participant, Youth Focus Group)

  • Ability to provide structure and guidance contrasted with fostering independence and confidence
  • “You need some kinda structure. ‘Cause when you enter into care, some people have no idea what it’s about.” The participant continues on to explain the need for youth to learn on their own: “You have that person kinda like following along with you, letting you make your mistakes, but still letting you know what kinda mistakes you’re making. And how to better improve yourself.”
    (Participant, Youth Focus Group)

  • Ability to focus on mentee, keeping in mind that for some youth, the mentor is the only person in their life who is one hundred percent focused on them, unlike a social worker who has other job responsibilities related to the youth’s care
  • “I see a mentor as someone who really listens. Who’s really attentive to the details and to the situation that’s going on, and is able to provide that [stability] to go along with it. … [The] main role of a mentor is to be able to listen and be able to listen and to be able to provide that safe space to allow you to grow and explore.”
    (Participant, Youth Focus Group)

  • Ability to support mentee in pursuit of their goals
  • “At the end of the day, if you’re going to be a mentor, you have to be able to help, support and lead someone to their goal.”
    (Participant, Youth Focus Group)

    “Mentors are not just anyone. They’re people who you trust in your heart. … If you’re not able to learn from who that person is, then that person’s not your mentor, that person’s your friend.”
    (Participant, Youth Focus Group)

(See Appendix D for Summary Report of Youth Focus Groups)