As part of its signature philanthropic initiative, AT&T Aspire, AT&T connects employees with students to provide mentoring and help students discover their potential. Since 2012, AT&T employees invested more than 1.6 million hours to impact students across the country. We asked one of these employees, Neal Backsman, to share his experience as a mentor and how it has changed him.
Why did you get involved with mentoring?
About four years ago I received an email about an opportunity to mentor at-risk youth virtually through iCouldBe. Considering my busy schedule, this was a perfect and flexible way to mentor since everything is done via a web portal with no specific schedule. I consider helping others a moral obligation. And, perhaps because I was lucky enough to benefit from a similar program when I was considered an “at-risk” youth, this felt like a natural fit.
How did the mentoring experience impact you? How do you think it impacted your mentee?
Mentoring adds meaning and purpose to what can sometimes be the chaos and routine of day-to-day life. Also, the mentor sometimes becomes the mentee and learns through the experience as well.
My mentee mentioned that I piqued her interested in a career that she’d never thought of before, but now plans on pursuing! It felt surreal when I heard her say that because, though I always strive to give my best when mentoring, humbly, I always wonder if I’m making an impact or just casual conversation. She proved to me that just a little bit of time sharing life experiences and asking questions can change a life. I hope I not only impacted her future success, but showed her how everyone can make a difference.
Why should others get involved mentoring?
Mentoring is something that anybody can do to take charge and directly and positively impact somebody’s life. Next month I will be 42 years old, and I still draw from the lessons mentors handed to me when I needed them most. Just you, one person, can make the change in the world that you desire.