if you are putting thought into this issue, the odds are high that you can be a great mentor to a young person. Why? Experience tells us that the very worst mentors are those who move into the mentoring experience with supreme confidence and the unyielding belief that they are exactly the kind of “adult influence” that young people need. All potential mentors should ask themselves, and ask seriously, whether they will be good mentors. There are several ways to explore this question.

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Continue to find ways to serve youth.

Finally, remember that even if you decide mentoring isn’t for you, your desire to help young people is a wonderful and well-aimed one. There are many ways to act on that impulse, starting with taking on a different kind of volunteer assignment at a mentoring program that interests you (e.g., organizing data that tracks the mentoring program’s operations and outcomes or helping to set up training and other events for mentors and mentees). Most programs are keenly interested in building their corps of dedicated volunteers and will warmly welcome you in a supportive capacity.

Know what your obligations are.

If you are in a formal mentoring program, review the application and screening process. Bear in mind that if you didn’t give yourself an A+ on any of these self-administered tests, it doesn’t mean you don’t have what it takes to be a terrific mentor. It probably bodes well. Kids aren’t perfect and aren’t looking for perfection in their mentors. They are looking for people who have a genuine interest in them, like them, and are willing to learn about them and about how to be helpful to them.

Talk with mentors

and see whether their experiences make you want to participate in mentoring firsthand.

Tell a friend or family member whose judgment you trust

that you are thinking about becoming a mentor, and listen to that person’s feedback.