Integral to growing STEM in our communities is mentoring our youth. Carine Clark, Silicon Slopes Executive Board Member, shares tips for teachers and industry members on mentoring.
There’s no age or position requirement to be a mentor
“Everyone can be a good mentor and help to lift a young person. It’s very empowering to reach out to someone. You will always realize that you have something to give, and if we all did that, we’d cover every kid out there in need.”
Don’t be afraid to reach out to those in your community
“There’s a girl in my community who works at my local grocery store. She moved out of her home at 17 and is living with her boyfriend. She has not completed high school. I made a point of going into her checkout line, talking to her, giving her my card and saying ‘If you need anything, please call or text me. I’d love to help you get through high school.’ Her response was ‘I’m all good.’
“Well, it’s not ‘all good,’ and I decided to build a bridge completely to her. My goal then became that every time I was at that grocery store I would let her know that I’m there for her and willing to help get her through high school because I’m not afraid to be shut down.
“When there’s something that needs to be done, I’m going to carry water to get it done. And if every one of us did that for every one of the young people that we came in contact with it would make a difference.”
Help youth to learn by failing
“Most young people are afraid to try new things because they’re afraid they’re going to fail. We need to help them understand that this state of mind is ridiculous. Imagine if we had no fear. We’d make mistakes all the time, and we’d learn from those mistakes and be a very resilient community.”
Show youth how to “unpack” their decisions
“Our job is to unpack the decisions that kids make. It’s not our job to control their decisions, but we want to help them unpack. Advise them to visit their future. If they want to work at a bank, tell them to go visit a bank; if they want to work in construction, then advise them to go work a construction job in the summer.”
A good mentor is not someone who opens a door for you; a good mentor is someone who pushes you through it.
“I knew this young man who graduated when my son did and soon after worked as a greeter at Sizzler. So I called him up and asked him ‘What are you doing with your life? Why aren’t you in college? You’re working at Sizzler, are you working two jobs to save for college?’ He wasn’t. And so I pushed more. ‘Did you know there’s a call center right behind your house and they’ll pay for your education? So, why wouldn’t you go work for them?’
“That conversation was on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving and the following Friday he had a job at the call center. He had to work three months there, but now he goes to school in the morning and works at the call center at night. It’s hard work but he’s doing it, and he’ll have his degree.”
Carine Clark | Utah Business