Power of Good Mentorships to Shape a Better Humanity

Celebrating the National Mentorship Month 2021, thanking all the mentors, mentorship facilitators, and encouraging kind-hearted individuals to contribute to the mentorship programs.

Sumudu Tennakoon
9 min readJan 31, 2021
Photo by NeONBRAND on Unsplash

Mentorship has a long history in our human civilization. In education, religion, governing, professions, and families, the mentorships helped carry forward the knowledge, wisdom, and good virtues from one generation to another. In other words, mentorships are the critical links connecting generations in the timeline of our civilization. When those links are broken or weakened, the progression of humanity is hindered.

“You cannot hope to build a better world without improving the individuals. To that end, each of us must work for his own improvement, and at the same time share a general responsibility for all humanity, our particular duty being to aid those to whom we think we can be most useful.” — Marie Curie

Image Source: Nobel Foundation archive.

This is a famous quote from Dr. Marie Curie, known as Madame Curie, one of the greatest scientists in the modern era, who made a significant contribution to science. Her example inspired many others to become scientists. I am one of those. As a kid, I learned her life story, devotion to science, and society and became a high admirer of her.

Lack of good mentorships is one reason for most of the irritating problems we face as communities, countries, and the world. If the individuals, especially the young kids, college students, and early career job seekers, are guided through proper mentorships, we should see a big difference in the community. It will be one of the most effective ways our youth can get into a progressive path to create a better future for humanity.

Genuine and quality Mentor-Mentee relationships are crucial for the progression of humanity as well as individual wellbeing.

What to Expect from the Mentorships

If we use one candle to light another, both will shine without reducing it from the first candle. Both the candles now can be used to light many others. Let’s take the mentorships with the same analogy. If we do it right, this goodness can be propagated through our society as a chain reaction for a greater good.

Mentorship is a two-way relationship. It is not about a mentor teaching or lecturing to a mentee. It is about building a good relationship between two and sharing knowledge, experience, and some part of their lives with each other.

Even we see the mentee as the one benefiting the most from a mentorship; we should not underestimate the experience and the learning a mentor can acquire here.

When establishing a mentorship, a mentor should be ready to give a time commitment to the mentorship and welcome the mentee into their life. A good mentor provides mentee guidance, support, comfort, motivation, honest feedback, constructive criticism, setting goals, sharing knowledge and experience. Kindness, empathy, compassion, humility, patience, self-awareness, integrity are some of the virtues they are associated with.

Image by Author

If good mentorship building skills can be established among scholars and professionals, it will be a great asset to empower our next generation to lead humanity.

How do mentorships work, and Where to Start?

Participating in mentorship in a mentor role is a good opportunity to give back and pay it forward as a professional or scholar. For early career and young professionals, helping another person coming behind in your path will be a great opportunity to build your network and develop communication and interpersonal skills.

Through a successful mentorship, both the mentor and mentee can

  • Discover new perspectives (look at things from a different angle or view).
  • Learn something new (a new skill, fact, culture, etc.).
  • Motivate to explore further what they already know (dig deep into subject matters, have a deep reflection on your own).
  • Grow academic/professional and personal network.
  • Find new opportunities (jobs, projects, etc.).

There are no specific educational qualifications or requirements to be a mentor to someone. The only needed factor is you are willing to devote yourself to it.

Mentorships can be established within families, educational institutes, workplaces, and pretty much within every organization. Mentorships can be formal and informal, but both are effective and valuable.

In a family, mentorships are informal and naturally start between parents and children, which is the most important mentorship to shape an individual’s life. In addition, mentorships are established between siblings, other relatives, and friends can be established. Often these inter-family and friend circle mentorships emerge naturally effortlessly.

Formal mentorships can be seen between academic advisers and students, between students in different levels, supervisors/managers and employees, between employees, etc. Some extra effort and devotion need to make formal mentorship to be a successful one.

Depending on the mentee’s needs, mentorships’ duration can be weeks, months, or years. No matter how long or short it is, the important thing is the outcome in the mentee’s progress and success. Mentoring works best when the mentee drives the process and the mentor willing to give a genuine contribution.

To create an effective mentorship in the modern era, both mentor and mentee should

  • Set boundaries, expectations, objectives, and goals.
  • Have a good understanding of each other's preferences and build trust to make the mentorship a comfortable relationship for both parties.
  • Agree on a schedule (meeting frequency, meeting duration, dates, times, mentorship duration, etc.)
  • Decide how to connect each other and where to meet (method: virtual, in-person, or hybrid. tools: which software platform to be used if virtual)
  • Outline a structure for meetings. Assign topics/themes to each meeting when it is possible.

A mentor should try to understand the potentials and weaknesses of the mentor and give honest feedback. The mentor should not hesitate to provide instructions and make necessary corrections while preserving the mentee's dignity. The mentor should encourage the mentee to improve, celebrate their achievements even it is minimal. The mentor should be willing to share knowledge and wisdom with the mentee whenever it is necessary.

Often the mentees are going through hardships and emotional distress under the circumstances. Mentor should try their best to understand them and have conversations to help mentees overcome their burdens. This can be done by pouring in some life lessons and shared experiences. A mentor may not be capable of financially supporting the mentee. However, it is possible to uplift the mentee's attitude and confidence to face the situation by providing some guidance, exploring the solutions to overcome the issues, and opening a platform for the discussions they cannot have elsewhere.

Some example situations where Mentorships can be helpful

Individuals need mentors to help them in many different stages in their lives and various situations. It can practically happen anywhere, any time. Below are only a few examples.

  • A student struggling with their education needs guidance to overcome that.
  • High School student wanted to make decisions on college applications.
  • Recent College Graduate looking for Jobs.
  • Recent College graduate looking for a graduate program to pursue a Master or Ph.D. degree.
  • Early career professional who wants to navigate their career.
  • A coworker looking for a job change and wanted to explore different job roles.
  • A Coworker needs to enhance their knowledge in a technical domain, learn a new skill, or use a tool/software.
  • A person who is about to start a new business needs some guidance to navigate the process.

You can start mentoring others independently and through mentorships facilitating organizations, mentorship programs within the workplace or academic institutions. It will always be a great feeling when you do something good to make a difference in someone's life and seeing their progress in front of your own eyes.

Mentorships are traditionally conducted as in-person and face-to-face meetings. The mentor-mentee assignments were made one-on-one or as groups within the same geographical location where everyone can physically interact. The recent advancement of information technology created many platforms to connect people via virtual interactions. That enabled us to expand the mentoring service beyond the location of our physical presence.

We can now mentor someone in a remote location with minimal effort. Many mentorships facilitating organizations and platforms also emerged with the technology making the mentorships a global effort connecting kind-hearted and skilled mentors with needy individuals worldwide. You can find many organizations to support in-person as well as virtually through mentorships. Below I will share my own experience with one of the mentorship facilitating organizations.

Global Mentorship Initiative (GMI)

In Fall 2020, I received an opportunity to volunteer as a mentor at Global Mentorship Initiative (GMI). After reading their program details, I decided to support GMI's mission because I strongly believed it would help me give back to the community. I was fascinated by how they create and organize the content to help mentoring sessions, communicate and facilitate the mentor-mentee interaction using a robust platform they formed. That makes the mentors spend much less time on preparations and logistics to focus more on adding value to the interactions with the mentee. Not to forget, their mentorships are virtually conducted.

Their program is well structured, organized, and professionally maintained by a great team.

My experience with GMI during the last few months is a rewarding one. I cherished the time given for the mentorship, giving something valuable to a student who has a timely need. In return, I am also learning from the mentorship engagements and the training and guidance provided by GMI to the Mentors. It is totally worth it according to my experience.

You can read details on the GMI program from their home page. I quoted below a brief introduction from their materials.

Image Source: GMI

“Global Mentorship Initiative is a non-profit org that provides coaching and business skills to underserved college students through online mentorship. GMI was created from the Rockefeller Foundation’s Digital Jobs Initiative to help prepare students for their first career job using a training model that makes it easy to be a great mentor. GMI provides everything you need to guide a student.

GMI work with universities in the US, South Africa, Jamaica, Senegal, and Sri Lanka and the program is 14 one-hour structured online sessions with a student as they prepare for their job search.”

You can learn more about GMI at globalmentorship.org.


This article is written to celebrate the National Mentorship Month 2021, thanking all the mentors and mentorship facilitators and encouraging you to give back to the community through mentoring programs. I express my gratitude to my parents, teachers, and all others who mentored me in personal, academic, and professional conditions, helping me navigate my life journey. I also extend my thanks to all the mentors and mentorship program facilitators around the world who are doing an excellent service to the community with their precious time and efforts.


The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not represent those of the employer or other institutions related to the author. Discussion, criticism, alternative thoughts, and suggestions are welcome.

References and Some Inspirational TED Talks about Mentoring

  • The Ripple Effect of Mentoring | Jessica Hurley | TEDxUSFSP



Sumudu Tennakoon

Physicist & Data Scientist. 💜 reading and discussing the topics of Science, Technology, Computing, Data Science, AI, and Education. All views are my own.