Big and little sister, Megan and Diane

[tweetmeme single_only= false http://www.URL.com%5DWinston Churchill once said “We make a living by what we get; we make a life by what we give.” And one of the best ways to give back to your industry or community is to become a mentor. 

A mentor is a coach who helps guide a younger or less-experienced person through their career, schooling, or life, by listening and encouraging. While this often happens organically, there are also a range of mentoring programs you can join if you feel you have something to offer. 

Mentoring programs come in all shapes and sizes, so you can choose a program that suits your area of expertise, your interests and values. Here are some ideas to help you get started: 

SHINE for Kids offers a mentoring program for children between the ages of 8 to 17 years old with a parent in the criminal justice system. The program allows children to develop positive relationships with adult role models, providing consistency and stability without intruding into their own family structure. Mentors should be willing to meet with a child on a fortnightly basis over an ongoing period of at least 12 months. Shine for Kids offers mentoring programs in Sydney, Central Western NSW and Melbourne. Click here for more details. 

Freeman and Adam from Big Brothers, Big Sisters, Melbourne

Big Brothers, Big Sisters has a mentoring program to reduce social isolation and improve self-esteem for disadvantaged young people. The aim is to enable young people to reach their potential through the development of a trusting friendship with an adult mentor. Mentors must be willing to meet-up with their youths one hour a week for a minimum of 12 months. Big Brothers, Big Sisters has programs in Melbourne, Wangaratta, Geelong, Adelaide, Perth, Sydney and Brisbane.  Click here for more details. 

iTrack is a Smith Family initiative to support and inform senior high school students who are beginning to formulate their post-school plans, by pairing them with active members of the workforce. Mentors provide advice and encouragement over the course of two terms, with the majority of the interaction occurring online. iTrack is currently operating in NSW, VIC, QLD, SA and WA. For more information on it or any other Smith Family mentoring programs click here. 

There are also mentoring programs for refugees, carers, children at risk of leaving school and disabled people, among others. To find more youth mentoring programs, the Australian Youth Mentoring Network website has a nation-wide search tool.