what if you could see into the future?

hope swanson on a pedestalIf you had sixty hours to help a couple high school students decide about your career, what would you do?

  • What would you explain to help them avoid problems?
  • What view of your work–of your way of looking at the world–would you make sure they understood? What mixture of conversation and self-analysis and activity would illustrate
  • What values of you, your profession, your organization would you highlight? How would you make them clear? What about the hidden values?
  • What projects would you give them–the busywork things that you hate to do or something that will give them a sense of success, of having done something that mattered?
  • What tools would you train them to use? How much time would you spend on training?
  • How often would you stop working on “real work” to explain why and how?
  • How would you protect them from cynicism while helping them understand realism?
  • How would you help them find a sense of calling, whether in your field–or some other field?
  • What would you teach them about how to work?

And then, as you think through those questions,

  • How much of your own work habits would you need to change?
  • How much patience would you be willing to find?
  • How far into the future are you willing to look?
  • How vulnerable are you willing to be about why–and why not–to work the way you do?
  • How humble are you willing to be about handing off credit to them for the work they do?

Why do I ask? Because I get to spend sixty hours with two high school students as a work mentor. One wants to be a photographer, the other a pastor. Both of them are on twitter and facebook. Both of them get the basics of technology. Twelve weeks, an hour a day, five days a week. I could give them busy work, pencil sharpening, paper shuffling, mind-numbing internship stuff. Or I can help them actually change lives with a peculiar mix of communication, technology, aesthetics, and social media.

What would you do, if you had the chance? (And what would it take to make the chance (local high school, business teacher, unpaid internship)?)

I’m going for the changed lives.

You can come, too.


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3 responses to “what if you could see into the future?

  1. i’m selfish this morning
    so i’m no help to your asking advice

    but i did cry a little
    i wonder how different my life could have been after school had i had someone like you to spend time with

    i’d have acted all whatever about it
    but maybe it could have helped me by pass all the lack of maps and compass that was to follow

    but then
    we shouldn’t wish for an easier life right?
    just the grace and strength to get through it

    do i wish i had someone like you to have helped me then when i needed it
    or do i accept that struggle is part of it
    and that was a period of time i needed to struggle
    and simply hope that right now
    is another young persona turn
    and i feel good in my heart that they have a chance to learn from you

    i think it’s that one 🙂
    now this will be in my head
    what would i have wanted from you
    not that i’ll tell you
    cause i never actually get back to people! 🙂

    i’ll have the answers!

  2. it’s funny, as I think about it. I almost said that I had no one doing this. And I didn’t have the structure. But my first job in high school was in data processing. And I am still doing that, though in a much-morphed form. So I guess there was some mentoring.

    And there is going to be struggle, indeed. But looking for and offering mentoring can help with that, no matter when in life it comes and it starts.

    even when you are more than halfway through. I hope.

  3. I am not a big believer in assigned mentorships. You have two interns and one or both might become your mentees. Regardless, all three of you have much to gain–particularly the students who have had the good fortune to have been assigned to such a thoughtful and caring leader.

    In true new media fashion, consider your work with them to be a conversation. You will tell each other what you need and what you can provide.