Maral Farsi, Deputy Director of Legislative and Intergovernmental Affairs at the California Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development, has been an advocate of mentorship for over a decade. Farsi, who graduated from California State University, Northridge and received a graduate degree from the UCLA School of Public Health, participates in formal and informal mentorship programs whenever possible and as long as the commitment offers a helpful contribution to the mentees.
For Farsi, the value of the relationships are mutually beneficial—what she can offer to a mentee by way of advice, guidance, and coaching, she also receives by staying abreast of industry trends and hot topics. She has mentored high school, college, and graduate students both due requests for engagement and because of her own personal fulfillment. Maral Farsi, who has also volunteered in high schools in the Sacramento region in various capacities, believes that she is helping fill a need that she wishes had been available to her.
Mentorship opportunities are available through local and national programs, as well as through ordinary interactions with students and young professionals. Often, alumni programs through colleges and universities and high school college/career prep offices also have formal programs as an entre to mentorship. There are also other avenues to mentorship through youth-focused organizations such as Junior Achievement, Big Brothers Big Sisters of America, and even your local city or county government. There are many resources available online for those who have less formal mentee/mentor pairings. However, how one becomes a mentor is not as important as what a mentor does when they have a mentee.
Maral Farsi urges those who commit to mentorship to be upfront about their availability and what approach they want to take to their mentee/mentor relationship. If the mentor can only meet once a month by phone to provide advice, have a coffee every few weeks to offer networking opportunities, or only review resumes and cover letters—they should say so! The mentee should also be encouraged to seek out other mentors who may provide other assets. Most of all, Farsi believes that a mentor should take risks and share their successes and failures. The challenge many youth face are fears of taking risks because they may make a mistake. But, Farsi says that we all make them and we should use them to better ourselves and teach those following us.