Dear Readers,

This topic is so close to heart because finding a mentor is important to everyone. Finding a mentor is SO IMPORTANT that I have dedicated a large part of my life to starting Over My Shoulder Foundation and promoting the idea of Mentorology – the art and science of mentoring. Justin Locke, a previous member of the Boston Pops Orchestra, appeals to teenagers as he writes this Beginners Guide to Being a Successful Mentee. Yet, most of as really ARE all still just kids at heart wondering what we’re going to DO when we grow up. Mentoring IS often understood as an older person teaching someone younger how to do a specific thing, or teach that youngster some lessons about life. Yet in Mentorology there is an even exchange. Mentor and mentee share valuable insights with each other and grow because of it.

Even Warren Buffet’s career advice is to “do what you’d do if you were independently wealthy.” Why not start now by finding a mentor? It’s so easy with Justin Locke’s step-by-step mentoring advice below.

-Dawn Carroll, Over My Shoulder Foundation Co-Founder and Executive Director


Okay, so you’re a high school kid who has been reading this Over My Shoulder blog, and now you’re saying to yourself, “wow, how do I get in on some of this fabulous mentoring action?” Well, read on, we will explain the basics
of how to do it, or at least one approach.

Finding a mentor is actually pretty easy to do. Even if you’ve never encountered someone who took any interest in you up until now, if you follow the rules and procedures, you too can have a fabulous mentoring experience.



Step one: It all starts with desire. Here is a trite question, but it’s also one of the most important questions you can ever ask yourself: what do you want to be when you grow up? It’s kind of important to not take this lightly. Also, you are probably surrounded by people who are trying to influence your decision and tell you what they think you should want. So sit down in a nice quiet room someplace all by yourself and imagine that everyone around you is happy and content and willing to accept whatever career decision you make on your own. And then, ask yourself that question: What do you want to be when you grow up?

Bear in mind, this can be difficult, and you may not get it right the first time. This is a process of discovery. But before you can present yourself as a candidate for mentoring, you need to at least say, “I am seriously considering doing [x] as a career, and I was hoping you could give me some advice in the matter.”


The next step is finding potential mentors and hooking up with them. This is a whole lot easier than you might think. Start close to home, in your current “network.” Ask your parents if they know someone. Ask your friends and their parents if they know someone. If that doesn’t work out, start expanding your network. For example, there are wonderful things in every town in America called “Rotary Clubs.” They sponsor all sorts of programs for high school kids, including scholarships and leadership training. Not only that, but practically every Rotary club has at least one lawyer, one doctor, one banking professional, one real estate agent, and one everything else. They know everybody. They are a magnificent resource of connection, they would be happy to give you some advice, and all you have to do to start is send an email to the president of the club.


The next step is, again, based on the answer to the question in step one. You want to say to these people, “I’m seriously considering doing [x] as a career, and I’m looking for an adult who can give me some advice.” It is important that you be serious about your desire, because they will notice right away if you aren’t. Also they will notice right away if you are, and that will command respect.

Now at this point you may be asking, “why would any of these busy people want to take time out of their day to spend time talking to me?” The answer is, for all sorts of reasons. Every single one of these people was, one
time or another, a teenage kid just like you, so they can empathize with your current situation more than you might think. Many of them will have memories of being a somewhat lost and confused teenager, wishing that
someone had helped them out and given them guidance. Helping you is a way to heal their own past. Or perhaps someone helped them out way back when, and now they are eager to “pay it forward.”

There’s also just plain old ego. Many people are eager to share their philosophy, or just show off their knowledge. And no matter who you are, it feels good to help other people. And don’t forget, there is tremendous
“equity” in youth. Older people like to be around younger people. You’re so full of life.

Getting Into Your Mentoring Relationship

There are all sorts of ways to get into a mentoring relationship. You can take someone to lunch. Or, you might volunteer or sign-up for an internship. The best mentoring opportunities are totally unique and don’t
fall into any pre-existing forms. To make it happen, just hang around, or maybe offer to make yourself useful. Ask people the magic question: “How can I help you?” Offer to help out with menial tasks or just
sweeping up the place. If you want to be a lawyer, filing the papers or washing the windows in a real law office for a couple of weeks will tell you more about the actual business than any book on constitutional law.

Once you hook up with a mentor, bear in mind, being a good mentee is not the same as being a good student. This is not a relationship where you should be eager to demonstrate that you “know the answer.”
The real world is not school. When in doubt, keep your mouth shut. Be humble. And remember this principle of applied stupidity: “The dumber you look, the more stuff people will tell you.”

There are more mentoring opportunities out there than you can count. And remember, it’s important to go to school and get good grades, but networking and making connections is just as important to your success in
life, if not more so. There are lots of people out there who are genuinely eager to help you. It all starts with articulating desire.

So, what you want to be when you grow up?

© Justin Locke


[box type=”bio”]

Justin Locke spent 18 years playing bass with the Boston Pops before becoming an author and speaker. In his books and presentations he talks about the confluence of education, history, and the performing arts, and how this affects current issues of organizational dynamics and management.

His books include “Real Men Don’t Rehearse” (his humorous Pops memoir) and ”Principles of Applied Stupidity” (or, the benefits of going against conventional wisdom). His upcoming book is titled “The Emotions of Money: Undoing the Effects of Poverty Thinking.”  J

Justin has been featured on Chronicle HD, CBS Radio, WGBH’s Greater Boston, and in the Boston Globe, and he recently appeared as an “author@google.” Justin’s plays for family orchestra concerts are performed all over the world, and he writes a monthly article of managerial “people skills” for the American Institute of CPAs. Justin appears regularly as an entertaining and inspirational speaker for more information please visit his website www.justinlocke.com. [/box]


[box] Have you successfully found your mentor? Please write to us and share your mentoring stories with Over My Shoulder Foundation so we can keep inspiring others to do the same! [/box]

A Veterans Day Poem

We Need Hope for the Hopeless

A Poem for Veterans Day

By: Marissa Ranahan


In the shooting sounds of rifles,

And the somber sounds of screams,

In the midst of fear, he praised the lord,

To end his hellish dream.


He was a soldier on the line,

a man tossed into war torn blunders,

The daggers of sadness protruded him,

In his life of an un slept slumber.


The aura of nerves deep inside his body,

And the trauma resting into his head,

Made an emotionless mind completely empty,

And a soul left to be dead.


We need hope for the hopeless,

The soldiers too lost to roam,

Their battlefield does not leave in war,

But the battle starts right at home.


We need hope for the hopeless,

The angels to help with healing aide,

With grace to heal their tattered minds,

And a well mind to be made.


These angels are not sent from the heavens,

And do not come from a blue lit sky,

We are the angels on a human earth,

Trained to hear the soldier’s cry.


To gently embrace the soldiers hand,

And lead through a faithful door,

Leaving the trauma behind the lock,

And becoming the soldier’s mentor.


To thank the men who risked their lives,

So we could proudly hold our colors,

The dignity and sacrifice of these men,

Is not comparable to any other.


We need hope for the hopeless,

To slowly ease the minds to rest,

Whisper kind words to say “we’re there for you”

And guide them through their stress.


And if you doubt your gifted grace,

To help a war drenched soul,

As a mentor, you hold a gift to heal,

And fill the heart’s lonely hole.


[box] In the past we’ve featured a Veterans day Mentorology story by 2nd LT Paul Merklinger about mentoring in his military career and also a story written by the director of the Veterans Upward Bound Program at the University of Massachusetts who works to mentor veterans in the process of obtaining education and work after active military duty. [/box]

It Takes a Tragedy…

With the aftermath of Sandy, the nation is poised to reflect upon the possibility of another sudden tragedy. Who knows what, where, when or who will be affected next by some unexpected heartbreak. We feel our own heartbreak right now more than ever as one of our dearest volunteers, Becca, has suddenly passed away.

Becca’s glowing memory helps us to reaffirm our commitment to working every day towards the things we hold nearest and dearest. We want to encourage you, dear readers, to open your hearts to what is greatest in humanity.

We want you then, just like Becca, to share the greatness in you with others through mentoring.

Becca was part of our mentoring family here at Over My Shoulder Foundation. We will never forget the glorious energy of this special young lady. She was working on some writing for us which included an excerpt from the Desiderata by Max Ehrmann:

“Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune.
But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings.
Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.
Beyond a wholesome discipline,
be gentle with yourself.”

Those stunning words are good advice for anyone, all races, all ages. Becca was a fabulous and powerful mentor queen. After some of our sadness clears we will dedicate something more to her but for now we want to thank Becca for all her energy, which continues to mentor us right now.

Once in a while the stars collide and gift you with a special person who grabs your attention so intensely that you feel like you have known them your entire life. You feel, also, that you need and want them in your life forever. That was Becca. She made everyone she met improve at the moment of introduction, just with her smile.

Her immediate belief in Over My Shoulder Foundation was evident. There was no error in meeting. Our friendship ignited instantly, and was perfectly clear from the moment it started. She asked questions that no one has asked before, requests so intriguing that we felt something magical start to happen whenever we spoke.

Becca must have been predisposed to stories, and facts. She was so smart. As a lifelong dancer and aspiring library scientist – she brought the best of all worlds into one. Becca shared her awesome eclectic music taste on a music blog that we keep visiting to keep her memory bright. I will never forget the note I sent to Becca right after meeting her:

“I adore you and need to know everything about you”

While we can’t know what Becca would have done with her future, which was looking bright, we CAN appreciate what she has given us. Becca felt empathy for the downtrodden, and she worked to make the world a brighter place by improving herself and mentoring others. We at OMSF, like all her friends and family, feel devastated.  We didn’t know Becca long, but the time we knew her was remarkable and unforgettable. So, Becca, we miss you. We feel like we’ve known you before and will know you again…

-Dawn Carroll, Over My Shoulder Co-Founder and Executive Director