6 Tips for Mentoring Teens This Summer

by Gil Zeimer on May 30, 2011
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For the last few years, I’ve mentored teens during the summer, all aspiring writers. The most recent was a friend’s daughter, an advertising major at Texas Tech University who had aspirations to become a copywriter.

Just about anyone can become a mentor, and lord knows there are lots of kids who could use one. Whatever the industry and whatever their goals, here are some tips on mentoring teens during this upcoming summer.

1)    Let Them Be Creative Empower a teen to help you create something. I’ve tried to use a mentee’s headlines or body copy in an actual ad I’ve worked on so they have something to show for their toils. Let them write a blog post about their experiences to test their writing chops. You’ll be surprised at how creative these teens can be when you get them energized about a project.

2)    Take Them Into Your Brain – Share your creative process with them. I don’t just show teens my past successes, I explain how I created the right words for an article, a headline, a radio commercial, an ad, or a website that solved a client’s problem and satisfied my standards.

3)    Have Them Tag Along To a Client Meeting – Whether it’s on the phone or in person, invite them to be a fly on the wall at a client meeting so they can see how you present your work to a client, what their feedback is, and how you work together to complete the project.

4)    Ask Them to Mentor You With Social Media – Because my daughter’s a teen, all of her friends seem to be majoring in Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and other social media. So let your teen mentor you on how to tweet, write on people’s walls, and whatever else you need to learn to be hip, cool, and totally e-socialized. You can then apply your learning to LinkedIn and other business sites so you can network with business colleagues and prospects.

5)    Collaborate With Your Mentee – Last year, I was mentoring a journalist who was transitioning to becoming a full-time advertising writer. So when a client asked me to create a poster for a breastfeeding campaign, this writer had firsthand knowledge about breastfeeding while I had only bottle-fed my daughter. She was the perfect collaborator for my project.

6)    Reward Them For A Task Well Done – Since mentoring is a step below an internship, show the teen that their mentor has a heart of gold. Give them a gift card to Starbucks or a restaurant to let them know that you appreciate the time they’re spending to learn your business. That small gift will seem like a huge reward to them.

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