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Do less fortunate youth a favor. Mentor them to build a ‘growth’ mindset

A couple of weeks ago, I spent time at a company-led volunteering event where we mentored less fortunate youth on real-life challenges, useful tips while interviewing and ways to retain a job.

I came away impressed by their ambition and open-mindedness to change. One of them started a restaurant with a friend but soon had to close shop due to dwindling resources. He learnt to cut his losses and exit the business but hadn’t lost his passion for venturing again as an entrepreneur. What he feared however was losing again. Another person I spoke to was a state-level high jump athlete – placing 2nd rank at his track & field event. He was not able to pursue his passion for sports because he had personal commitments at home to manage. Interestingly, he did not know that the government offered scholarships or that there were sports charities that funded gifted athletes. Another youth mentioned his ambition to open and manage an orphanage despite not knowing the numerous hurdles it takes to get permissions and keep a home for destitute children running. A key theme, which emerged, was the disinterest to read and explore the world, despite having access to the internet.

The CSR 2% funds are mostly routed to education in the country with skill building as the key focus. Often, organizations focus heavily on training and placing youth to ‘meet’ their numbers. Very rarely do they consider if these youth are truly interested and will stay in the job. Most often than not, getting a job is not what helps unemployed youth. Managing expectations at the workplace, building a career, collaborating with peers and understanding what ‘good and great looks like’ are some of the issues youth need help with.

Individual needs will vary at different points in the life journey. Doing well in the interview is a first step in landing a job. Most people are unable to stick to their jobs because they are probably not passionate about the job, aren’t invested in growing personally and professionally and not being aware of opportunities to add value to the organization. Not just that – there are numerous distractions at the workplace. From the inability to manage themselves to the lack of focus on the job; from the inability to discovering their own sources of energy to overcoming time-wasters at the workplace – these can drain the individual and make everything seem like an insurmountable mountain to climb.

What will however stand the test of time is the individual’s enthusiasm, reliability, getting along with others and willingness to learn.

Only when they build a ‘growth’ mindset that inspires them to stay strong, focused, and committed, can they be ready for the future. Studies have proven that youth and children taught to “set goals, identify obstacles, and learn self-control strategies” are often successful in their academic scores and personal lives. The opportunities to help youth make an impact in the world includes teaching them about tenacity, staying for the long haul and knowing that learning is a continuous process instead of a one-off ‘degree’ getting activity.

In summary, it might be worth for organizations who invest in making underprivileged youth job-ready to focus on building mindsets for the future rather than just helping them land a job.

 What do you think? Please share your views here.

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