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Opinion Editorials

Should mentors be paid for their time?

(EDITORIAL) Mentors are a tremendous value, but should they expect to be paid for their time or does that violate the entire social contract here?

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CBS reported on PivotPlanet back in 2012, a company that provided advice from advisors who wanted to “pivot” into a new career. The question then was “Should you pay for mentorship?”

I would like to quantifiably say no, you should not pay for mentorship.

Take a moment to consider what mentorship is

Think about what mentorship is. It’s a long term relationship, most typically at least a year or more, that is to develop professional or even personal success. A mentor is a support for their mentee, helping the mentee gain confidence in the industry and challenging the mentee to grow.

It’s about self-awareness and taking responsibility for the choices you make with your career. Although it is a professional relationship, it also becomes a friendship and a partnership.

How dollars change the relationship

Although the world is changing, once you start paying for something, it changes the dynamics of the relationship. Once you involve money, it becomes a consulting gig. Mentoring needs to be a safe environment for the mentee. Concerns about monetary restraints can put limits on this relationship. Building a contract into a mentor/mentee partnership raises all kinds of questions.

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Who is actually driving the process? What happens during a dispute? Can the mentee sue the mentor if their direction is wrong?

Mentees aren’t the only ones that benefit

This relationship can also benefit mentors. In one relationship where I was the mentee, through their connections to me, my mentor stayed in touch with newer technology. She was able to practice skills that let her grow in leadership. By the time our relationship progressed to another level, we both felt as if we benefited. We stayed friends for over 25 years, until she passed away.

I’m not saying that the mentor should just give their time without consideration. I firmly believe that mentors need to set boundaries and guidelines about what they are prepared to give when mentoring. But I don’t believe this can ever be a paid relationship and work for personal development when the mentee is paying for the privilege.

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Dawn Brotherton is a Sr. Staff Writer at The American Genius with an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Central Oklahoma. She is an experienced business writer with over 10 years of experience in SEO and content creation. Since 2017, she has earned $60K+ in grant writing for a local community center, which assists disadvantaged adults in the area.

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