For a few years now I mentor students at Ocean View High School in Huntington Beach, California. My activity is part of a program called Business Academy developed at Ocean High in the last years. Every spring, students meet accomplished professionals and business people who become their mentors. The goal of the program is to teach and show students the path to a professional life and what to do to pursue their goals.
Along the years I found out that students are inherently eager to go further and learn, but there may be many obstacles that would prevent them to become professionals. Some of them simply do not know what to do to become a professional. Some others do not know what would interest them, what is their goal in life, what to choose as a profession. Others do not believe that they could go further and pursue a college degree and are not encouraged by their families or friends. There are students that are afraid of being labeled as geeks and so they stop learning.
No matter the reason, as a mentor, I talk to them to find out what stops them. My goal is not to impose one profession or another, but to help them discover themselves. I help them discover on their own what activity grabs their interest. I tell them that, if they choose the profession right, they will work with much pleasure for 8 hours day after day, every day. If they love their profession they will continue to learn, read professional magazines, be informed, and this, in turn, will make them successful.
When I hear that some of their peers label them geeks and laugh at them if they learn math and physics or chemistry, I tell them to remind their peers that all the iPads, iPhones, tablets, mp3s, video streaming, Facebook, computers, games that everybody love were created by engineers, people that were labeled geeks at some point in time, people that know math and physics. However, this did not stop the so called geeks to become accomplished engineers and invent all these technological wonders in the last 20 years. There are many ways to talk to students and help them increase their self esteem. One needs patience and the interest to accomplish this.
If you are a professional I ask you to become a mentor. You will be amazed how receptive students are. You can help them choose a profession and how to go for a degree. If they happen to follow your own profession, you can help them further, in their college years. Look for a similar program in your community and get involved. Your award will be the satisfaction that you helped form a life, and a thank you said from the bottom of a young heart.