This Week's Herman Trend Alert

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  The Herman Trend Alert

January 25, 2000

Corporate Mentoring of High School Students

341 days until January 1, 2001

Several trends are coming together to encourage mentoring of high school students by corporate employees.

  1. Students are increasingly savvy and demanding. They want to have more input in determining courses to take and how they'll prepare for their careers. These young people want current, state-of-the-art advice-best obtained from people who are on the front lines, making things happen.

  2. Tight budgets are forcing high schools to cut back on guidance counselors and the services they provide. College-bound students and their parents use services of private consultants in curriculum planning, college selection, and financial aid application.

  3. Corporations, hungry for talented workers, are recruiting more aggressively at the high school level. Employers begin to build relationships with young people when they are in high school, providing co-op, part-time, and summer jobs and offering money for college scholarships. Objective is to attract the students to come work for them after graduation.

  4. Employees are motivated to make a difference in the world around them, using their work as a vehicle. Reaching out to young people is a way to have a positive influence. Mentoring is now an accepted practice in the corporate world, a comfortable type of relationship. Employees who are already mentors-or being mentored-will seek even more opportunities to help others.

Put these trends together and it's easy to see how corporate employees in various positions and levels will be called upon to mentor students. In some cases, the entire relationship will be voluntary and unofficial-- neighbors, friends, members of the same church will connect with young people. In other cases, the process will be organized and managed by the employer to deliberately connect workers and students. Part of this effort will be for recruiting purposes; part will be cast as corporate citizenship. Some companies will use the opportunity to train future managers how to mentor, coach, and lead . . . using the students as a "laboratory" to help them gain experience.

It's another important connection between business and education, enabling employers to relieve educators of another task so they can concentrate on formal teaching.


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