The original version of this article was published in Half Times, the digital magazine for Robert Half employees.

At Robert Half, mentoring is ingrained in our DNA. And a new initiative — our volunteer mentorship program — aims to encourage employees to engage with nonprofits, schools and other community organizations as volunteer mentors.

Leslie Chamberlain, senior manager of community relations at Robert Half, explains that volunteer mentoring is one of the many ways our company helps the broader community.

“Our mission is to help people along the next phase of their career journey, whether they’re unemployed, under-employed or looking for a new direction,” she says. “We are experts in jobs and careers, and sharing that knowledge is a great way to support an organization you care about, help others succeed, and learn something along the way.”

The value of networking

Recently, Robert Half participated in Junior Achievement of Northern California’s STEM Week, during which more than 5,000 junior high and high school students attended workshops, webinars and mentoring sessions related to careers in the science, technology, engineering and math fields.

Mentors from Robert Half, like Hillary Hernandez, senior vice president and practice director for technology and marketing and creative in Oakland, Calif., discussed with students the value of networking and thriving despite adversity.

“As an individual who’s overcome learning disabilities, I hope I’m able to impart to others who might be struggling that they shouldn’t feel limited,” Hillary says. “I came from a place where I struggled with dyslexia to having a fulfilling 22-year career with Robert Half. I always remind my mentees that they can achieve far beyond what they understand now, not to sell themselves short.”

Carly Suchoff, practice director for the finance and accounting contract team in midtown Manhattan, has served as a mentor for StreetWise Partners helping young professionals craft resumes, write cover letters and gain insights into industry trends. “I’ve always had a mentor,” Carly says, “I’ve found it beneficial to have someone on my side other than my direct supervisor. And I’ve also learned as much from my mentees as they have from me.”

Paying it forward

Brittany Nisenzon, metro market director in Philadelphia, says being a mentor with organizations like Tech Impact has helped her impart lessons she’s learned from coaching received in her own life.

Working with Tech Impact’s ITWorks program, Brittany helped an up-and-coming tech professional with no college degree along his path to becoming a senior engineer. “The change was not instantaneous,” she says. “But focusing on short- and long-term goals and actions helped him feel more in control of his career.”

Mentoring can take as little or as much time as you want. Working with this young man was a process that took place in short sessions over many years. “We were able to place him with one of our clients, where he continued to develop his skills,” Brittany says. “He grew so much. It’s been awesome to maintain that relationship. I’m so proud of him. Now we’re partners. It’s a great way of paying it forward. For me, mentoring is being that lifeline for someone to be successful.”

Creating a “safe zone” for mentees

A 25-year Robert Half veteran, Dawn Fay, senior district president in New York City, has mentored in both long- and short-term mentoring relationships. She has also participated in the New York Business Journal’s Mentoring Monday annual event, which offers mentoring in short bursts, like “speed mentoring.”

Dawn says that even with a busy schedule, she always finds a way to help. Sometimes, she speaks with a mentee while commuting to a meeting with a client, or she’ll invite a mentee to join her on a conference call. “Be strategic with your mentoring,” Dawn says. “Before you begin a session, understand what your mentee wants to get out of the session. Another absolute is confidentiality. You want to create that safe zone.”

“One of the cardinal rules of mentoring is not to just agree with your mentee or solely be a sounding board,” Dawn says. “My job is to do my best to help them, to push them to reach their goals.”

For an in-depth look at Robert Half’s ongoing commitment to the people, businesses and communities we serve worldwide, download a copy of our 2021 environmental, social and governance (ESG) report, Leading With Integrity.