Mentors May Steer Young People Toward More Rewarding Careers

new article illustration

THURSDAY, Sept. 18, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- Teens and young adults who've been mentored may be more likely to get a job that provides them with greater responsibility and independence early on in their career, according to a new study.

"We found that having a mentor provides a clear benefit well into their working lives," the study's lead author, Steve McDonald, an associate professor of sociology at North Carolina State University, said in a university news release.

In conducting the study, published online recently in the American Journal of Community Psychology, the researchers examined data compiled on more than 12,000 teens and young adults. Those polled were asked if they ever had a mentor. The young people were surveyed again six years later and asked about their jobs. The researchers also took into account differences in the participants' social and economic backgrounds.

"People from socioeconomically advantaged backgrounds are more likely to have mentors. We wanted to find a way to determine which professional benefits stem from mentorship, as opposed to benefits that came from socioeconomic advantages," McDonald explained.

According to study co-author Joshua Lambert, a doctoral student at the university, the investigators "found that overall employment and compensation were about the same. But people who had mentors when they were younger had greater 'intrinsic' job rewards."

Intrinsic rewards include having more authority, independence and responsibility, which make jobs more rewarding.

"The findings imply that mentees learn to place a higher value on jobs with more intrinsic rewards -- and those same characteristics are associated with long-term career success," McDonald concluded.

More information

The National Mentoring Partnership has more about the value of mentoring.