lorraineGuest blogging today for Growing Forward Services is a Leadership Tri-Cities colleague who I have admired from across town for her excellent work at the Kennewick School District. Thanks, Lorraine!

Having worked at the Kennewick School District for past ten years and marking almost 20 years since I landed my first “real” job in Communications out of college, I now find myself squarely mid-career. Perhaps a number of you reading this find yourself in a similar place. Having established yourself as a leader and achieving some level of mastery in your field, you may be asking yourself, “What’s next?” What can I do to recharge my passion for the work I do? The answer may entail making a change in your place of employment or even in the kind of work that you do. In my case, I’ve found a new spark and sense of purpose by turning my attention to the younger generation through mentorship and staff development.

I think anyone who has been in a mentoring role will tell you that you are likely to receive as much benefit from the relationship with younger employees as they do. In return for my professional advice and encouragement, I am exposed to new ideas and get a window into the “Millennial” culture coming up. This helps me in my own communications work and elevates my ability to coach, manage, and recruit.

There are many opportunities for mentoring – whether through a formal student internship or program in your organization. However, the opportunities to bring young talent along and help them succeed are everywhere. It needn’t be a formal program. Look around and take time to get to know the younger employees in your organization. Take time to appreciate their skills and listen to their ideas. Help them refine those ideas and understand how they can best be expressed in the context of your business or organization. Be the person they know they can go to when the need advice. Feel the swell of pride for them when they succeed at tough task and acknowledge them for it!

If you find yourself asking how you can continue to add value to your organization, step up your game, and refresh your career, consider reaching out to the younger generation. You are sure to learn as much from them as they do from you!

Lorraine Cooper, Director of Communications and Public Relations, Kennewick School District