Mentoring young people in theory and practice: The feel-good effects of mentoring

Figure 1. Nine images chosen by one of the participants.

Even though several previous studies have demonstrated the significant role of emotions in shaping beliefs related to vocational tasks (e.g., career decision self-efficacy [1]), practitioners and academics are still unaware of the specific links between employment programs and participants’ emotions. Against this background, in the context of the project YES!, we are conducting research to investigate how a multi-method employment intervention (training, coaching, and mentoring) implemented by Microfinanza Srl in Italy can change the participants’ emotions and, consequently, their beliefs.

To do so, we follow the Zaltman metaphor elicitation technique (ZMET)[2], an approach that attempts to map the participants’ emotions and beliefs through in-depth interviews operating via images. About one week before the in-depth interview, we asked our participants to collect between eight and ten images representing their thoughts and feelings about Microfinanza’s services. We present here in this short article some preliminary findings related to the data collected for one of the participants at the end of his/her mentorship path. Figure 1 shows the nine images chosen.

Figure 2 shows instead the cognitive map created during the data analysis. The four images on the left-hand side represent the participant’s feeling shortly before and at the beginning of his/her path within YES!. The two images on the right hand-sight represent the participant’s beliefs by the end of the initiative.

Figure 2. Conceptual map created during the data analysis.

Images 1, 9, and 4 are directly related to the informant’s participation in the program. More specifically, image 1 refers to his/her feeling of mental evasion by joining a digital marketing training course when the country was in lockdown due to the coronavirus outbreak (image 7). Image 4 refers to the acquisition of transversal skills during the training course, leading to self-efficacy beliefs (image 6) and increased self-esteem (image 2). Interestingly, the close friendship with one of the YES! mentors (image 8) resulted in the participant overcoming initial negative feelings of nostalgia (image 8), fear (image 3), and uncertainty (image 5) related to the end of his/her studies and first steps into the labor market.

[1]Taylor & Betz (1983) define career decision self-efficacy as individuals’ beliefs that they can successfully complete the tasks related to decision making concerning their career [Taylor, K. M. & Betz, N. E. (1983). Applications of self-efficacy theory to the understanding and treatment of career indecision. Journal of Vocational Behavior, 22, 63-81.]

[2]Zaltman, G., & Coulter, R. H. (1995). Seeing the voice of the customer: Metaphor-based advertising research. Journal of Advertising Research, 35, 35–51.

Giulia Parola, Munich Business School


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