How mentoring through NVFS’ programs provides opportunities for personal connection, professional growth and successful outcomes
Mentoring can take many different forms, whether direct one-on-one relationship building or simply serving as an example to others. At NVFS, our programs provide guidance and support in a number of ways to help steward our clients on their path toward self-sufficiency and success.
Although they do not operate as formal mentorship programs, per se, the act of mentoring or establishing trusted relationships between service provider, client and between clients of similar backgrounds play an important role in helping our clients succeed.
NVFS’ Training Futures offers a six-month, cohort-style workforce development program where, in those six months, the cohort of trainees spend their weeks together developing their professional skills to prepare them to work in corporate environments.
During those six months, trainees are exposed to myriad workshops ranging from proper business attire to resume writing. Trainees also work to overcome any fears of public speaking through small group sessions, in which they share their stories of immigration and re-establishing their lives in new countries. The trainees begin to recognize how similar their struggles have been and through similar experiences, trust and relationships are built.
“The trainees bond over their shared stories,” Director of Workforce Development Julie Mullen shares.
Through this bond, the trainees build relationships with one another that last a lifetime and continue to draw participants back to the program. Although there is no formal mentorship program within Training Futures, the act of mentoring one another is present throughout the course of the program and beyond, as witnessed by graduates returning to share their experiences with current trainees and serving as role models in the trainees’ lives. The cycle continues time and time again as each six-month cohort graduates and a new group of individuals take their place.
“Training Futures is built on examples. Being a professional is mimicking professionals around you that you admire,” says Mullen.
Through email mentorship, volunteers also establish a relationship with Training Futures trainees by offering professional advice and guidance, as well as the occasional grammatical correction that might be lost in translation, on email communication.
“Email communication is such an integral part of conducting business,” shares email mentor Lori Reed. “Most people take that skill for granted. Email communication is especially challenging for those who do not speak English as a first language.”
Email mentoring has been an effective tool for preparing trainees to enter a professional environment, as they have an opportunity to connect with a professional individual in the community to practice and fine-tune their skills.
“It is incredibly fulfilling to mentor someone before they enter the workplace. I feel invested in the trainee’s success and look forward to following their professional growth in the years ahead,” Reed concludes.
NVFS’ Early Childhood Development programs display aspects of mentorship through its services as well, which provide a safe space for parents to receive support in ensuring their children receive the necessary tools to build a healthy, successful life.
“At the core of the approach to engage parents is forming a relationship with parents the minute they step in the door,” shares Director of Early Childhood Education Shereen Ali. “Starting with intake and throughout the years their children are enrolled at Head Start, family advocates build a relationship with parents.”
These relationships are crucial to ensuring both child and parent receive adequate services they need in order to thrive.
“The personal relationship clients have with family advocates helps encourage trust and the formation of collaborating with families in a partnership process that identifies strengths, needs, interests, goals and services,” Ali adds.
Goal-setting is a tool used across many programs at NVFS, including our Youth Initiatives program and Intervention, Prevent and Education (IPE), which play a fundamental role in reducing youth-related violence in Northern Virginia, as well as providing teens with tools and resources for building successful futures.
Youth Initiatives and IPE Program Manager Kate Reen says, “Our program is based around goals. Clients come up with their goals, and we create program goals together.”
Goal-setting is taught to every client of the Youth Initiatives and IPE programs, and although both programs offer a much more comprehensive approach for teens, the team focuses on guiding them toward creating their own futures.
“Our clients learn how to create goals and meet goals. We do this through our time together, and then they can go on to do this in other areas of their lives and futures without us,” Reen stated.
Across our programs, establishing a network of trust has proven effective in providing a safe space for both personal and professional growth to flourish. Visit our service area pages to learn more about our programs and how they are impacting the lives of our neighbors across Northern Virginia.
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