Many retirees agree that a big part of a satisfying retirement is being able to give back, passing along their wisdom to future generations. Luckily, employers and volunteer organizations are seeking people who are willing to share the skills and knowledge they’ve gained throughout their careers. Retirees are perfect for this role as they have the time and an abundance of insights from a lifetime of experiences.
Being a mentor is not just a one-time thing, but is about giving advice, guidance or instruction over a period of time. The mentoring relationship should be fun and beneficial for the mentor and the mentee, whether or not the mentor gets paid. If you answer yes to the following questions, then mentoring may be for you.
- Do you enjoy helping others?
- Can you spare one or more hours a week?
- Are you a good listener?
- Do you have knowledge or experience that could help someone?
Many retirees say the rewards of mentoring are greater for them than the mentee. The rewards can include simply having fun to growing personally and learning more about themselves, improving self-esteem by making a difference and gaining a better understanding of people from diverse backgrounds.
Mentoring opportunities to consider
Opportunities abound for former teachers, from reading to kindergartners to tutoring university students. Dan V., a retired professor of mathematics and TIAA participant, now tutors students with learning disabilities part time at another university. Says Dan, “One of my favorite parts of teaching was working one-on-one with students who needed help in math.”
When Judy P. retired after 40 years as a special needs teacher, she wasn’t ready to stop teaching. “I wanted to feel like I was still making a difference, so I found a new way,” says Judy. Now, she gets paid to teach English to adult immigrants. Once a year, she also volunteers at a middle school teaching a four-week course about the Holocaust in preparation for a class trip.
Other options include teaching a day or night class at a local community college, or teaching part time at a public or private school (degree requirements for private schools are often less stringent).
Sharing a skill with the younger generation
Post-baby-boom generations get much of their information from the internet, including YouTube and podcasts. But technology is no substitute for a real live person who can teach a skill firsthand. Some skills may be considered “old fashioned,” but you might be surprised how eager a younger person would be for a personal tutoring session on bread making, canning, woodworking, sewing, gardening, household repairs or other practical skills.
If you have a knack for writing, why not start a blog by sharing your knowledge and experience about a topic or interest? There are a few steps to starting your own blog; this beginner's guide may help. Another option is to write articles on a topic you’re knowledgeable about and submit them to a relevant website. Or simply use your writing skills to teach a grandchild how to write a letter, an essay or story.
For other mentoring ideas and opportunities, check out these websites.
- SCORE (Service Corps of Retired Executives): SCORE volunteers provide confidential business mentoring services, both in person and online. Volunteers with backgrounds in a variety of industries are needed, including education, environment, healthcare, manufacturing, nonprofit organizations and marketing.
- The ADRC (Aging & Disability Resource Center): Chapters around the country engage volunteers to assist the elderly, persons with disabilities and their caregivers to find services and resources that help them live independently. To find a chapter near you, search online for “ADRC” plus your state name.
- SHIP (State Health Insurance Assistance Programs): Volunteers are trained to provide free, one-on-one Medicare counseling to eligible individuals, their families and caregivers so they’ll understand the benefits and options available.
- MENTOR : MENTOR maintains the Mentoring Connector, the only national database of youth mentoring programs connecting volunteers to opportunities in their local communities. Volunteer mentors develop one-on-one friendships with young people so they can be successful at home, at school and in the community and make a positive difference in the world.
- Workforce50 : If you’re looking for a paid position, Workforce50 offers job listings and other resources for people pursuing new directions later in life.
Mentoring is a two-way street
Mentoring relationships don’t have to be just older folks teaching younger generations. There is value in both directions! For example, if you’re a whiz at reading maps but are not so adept with smartphone apps or social media, you can be mentored yourself. No matter how you share your knowledge and experience—in a volunteer setting or through a paid position—mentoring can offer rich rewards and a great reason to get out of bed in the morning!