Worth the Commitment: Lauren’s Story

Lauren Papp is a mentor who joined iMentor NYC in 2018. A New York transplant, Lauren works in marketing and corporate communications. She was an active volunteer with other organizations and found iMentor through her desire to make an impact through forming a long-term relationship.

Lauren discusses her personal connection to mentoring and what motivated her to sign up with an additional mentee once she completed her first program.

How did you first get involved with iMentor? What attracted you to this opportunity?

I had always volunteered with different groups, doing one-off events. As someone who had been in New York for a while, it was really important to participate in the community. I really like school as a place and I appreciate working with youth.

I found iMentor through [a] city or state resource that recommended volunteer opportunities. [I] did some research and thought it was a worthy organization. I liked the idea of being committed to a student for an extended period of time and building a relationship.

Was there anything in particular about mentorship that really sparked your interest?

I really like the idea of growing a relationship, and over time being a resource for someone because you know them well and you have their best interest at heart, and like being involved in really important decisions and important moments in their lives. I liked the idea of being another resource for kids. That was important to me.

Tell me about your relationship with your first mentee Sharmin.

I met Sharmin when she was a freshman. I feel really lucky that I was paired with her. She's super outgoing and assertive, and she knows what she wants. She's got the best sense of humor. She is really driven; she cares so deeply about the people around her and also about making sure that she is consistently someone she can respect. That's so much wisdom and [an] impressive stance for someone who is pretty young in the world.

One of the best things – I guess it was [in] 2022 – I was able to be at her high school graduation and a bunch of mentors were there. It was really rewarding to be there. She went to college for a year. She joined the army and graduated boot camp and her training camp. She always knows what she wants, and she goes for it.

What motivated you to sign up to be a mentor again?

I take it super seriously because the consistency and the commitment is very real. I would never want to sign up to be a mentor, to be a consistent force in someone's life, and not be able to live up to it. I really thought about it.

At the same time, I selfishly also got stuff out of it. It was really rewarding to form a relationship with [Sharmin], to see her grow, and to learn about her life and her dreams. I hated the idea of not being involved in a young person's life. Ultimately it was an important part of my life for all those years of official mentorship with Sharmin.

Tell me about your current mentee Alondra. What is your relationship like with her?

Alondra and I met a few months ago; we're in very much the early stages. She is super kind. We have great conversations on everything, from her dog and my cat to some of her hopes in terms of her career. She's talked about some different health-related career options. She's definitely thinking about college and preparing for that. My last mentee started with her freshman year, so we did a lot of relationship building in the beginning. Now we're relationship building but I’m starting with a junior, so we're doing the building relationship as we start to talk about pre-professional [paths] and college options.

Were there any learnings that you took out of your relationship with Sharmin going into your relationship with the Alondra?

I very intentionally and thoughtfully forced myself before I started with Alondra to be like, “This is a new person; it is going to be different.” I went in expecting the communication to be different and expecting that we had to start from the bottom in terms of building a relationship.

Mostly [I] just tried from the get-go to remember that every person is different. And just like every other relationship in life is different, they’re going to have a different personality. I went in knowing we're going to have to find shared interests or things that we really like to talk about. I went in with no expectations that it would be exactly the same but was also nervous about having a new mentee, because my first one went well.

What have you learned through your experience with your mentees?

I definitely have learned more patience in terms of fully recognizing that everyone's on their own path, but also knowing that it is in fact their path. I've learned how to support without being too aggressive.

I've learned an appreciation for how different people communicate. I've learned some of the intricacies of different career paths from my own. And also [I] learn very silly things, like when skinny jeans started going out of style. Learning what kids are into – I’ve never felt so old.

You’ve been a mentor for many years. What would you say to someone who's considering becoming a mentor for the first time?

I'm really encouraging of people who want to do it. It's super rewarding for the mentor and the mentee. But only do it if you feel confident that you want to sign up for something for the long term. I hate the idea of starting with a student, and then not [being] there for them. Don't just be open to the school that's closest to you. It's not so bad to take the subway or trains or buses.

I strongly recommend iMentor. I have a few people in my life who are interested in joining because there's something really valuable about getting to work with a mentee – getting to know them, learning from them, helping them on their journey. I've found it really rewarding, so it's worthwhile.

We need more mentors like Lauren to help students through high school and into college! Sign up to be a mentor today: https://imentor.org/get-involved/become-a-mentor