Bank of the Pacific and Big Brothers Big Sisters: Career Mentoring Partners for Local Youth

4 Shares

Today’s kids have tremendous opportunities after high school. But they may not know exactly what options are available to them and how to find real answers. Getting on-site experience while still in school may provide that little extra spark of career guidance. Working with a mentor can fan the spark into a flame that changes their life. Locally, the Big Brothers Big Sisters of Southwest Washington is helping students through mentorship options in a variety of vibrant industries.

Ben Paylor, a senior mortgage loan originator at Bank of the Pacific, is on the Big Brothers Big Sisters board and worked to set up such a partnership with his institution. He sees the program as a community-wide, intergenerational win/win. “Through mentorship this will positively change youth outcomes which will ultimately make our community a better place to live for all,” says Paylor.

Big Brothers Big Sisters of Southwest Washington’s New Career Mentoring and Exploration Program

Jeff Engle, executive director of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Southwest Washington, explains that their career mentoring and exploration program recently received a three year, $750,000 grant through Senator Patty Murray’s office and the U.S. Department of Education. A new crop of “Bigs,” as local business volunteers and adult mentors are called, is currently developing curriculum with the Big Brothers Big Sisters organization, and grant funding is set to begin September 2024.

Mentors are then matched with “Littles:” local kids paired up with adults after a rigorous series of adult background checks, interviews for both Bigs and Littles, and the careful work of dedicated program coordinators. The primary goal is to build long-term relationships and match individuals with shared interests for easy communication.

Engle says the Littles then receive social and emotional time with caring adults, and learn real skills for their future lives. “It’s fun but also real career exposure,” says Engle, “and helps students find opportunities in their own community and in their own backyard.”

an adult and a youth sitting at a table working on a project
Bank of the Pacific and Big Brothers Big Sisters of Southwest Washington are just two of the organizations working together on a career mentoring and exploration program for high school students. Photo courtesy: Big Brothers Big Sisters of Southwest Washington

Mentored Kids Learn About the Many Facets of Finance with Bank of the Pacific

With 7 years’ experience on the Big Brothers Big Sisters board, Ben Paylor appreciates this new programming focus and impact the grant will provide. “I truly believe that youth mentorship can make a positive difference in both the mentor and mentee’s lives,” he says.

The program, which started mentorship pairings in October 2022, has worked with many industries to date. Paylor explains that he’s involved in the financial side which has partnered with Olympia Federal Savings, Chicago Title and Bank of the Pacific so far.

Mentor pairs of Bigs and Littles typically meet once a month during the school year at the jobsite. Kids shadow different departments, learn day-to-day operations in a variety of roles, put together presentations and practice real-world tasks like how to apply for an auto loan or home mortgage.

Within the banking world, for example, Littles could meet with branch managers, then spend time with universal bankers, customer service representatives and loan officers, says Paylor. For back-office experience, they’re introduced to accounting, marketing, human resources and training, loan and deposit operations, administration, digital/IT and customer care, wealth management, compliance and legal.

adults and a youths sitting at a table working on a project
Mentors – called Bigs – are carefully matched with mentees – called Littles – to learn the in’s and out’s of a career. In financial services, for example, Littles can shadow multiple roles both front office and behind the scenes. Photo courtesy: Big Brothers Big Sisters of Southwest Washington

Seeking Bigs and Littles for Career 101

Big Brothers Big Sisters of Southwest Washington is currently working with local schools, career and technical education directors and career counselors to bring more students into the program. “This opens kid’s eyes more than a one-day open house,” says Engle, “We’re looking for kids who really want to explore what’s out there.”

All high school students are welcome and it’s free to participate. No school credit is offered but the volunteer time is invaluable all the same. At the end of each cohort, two $1,000 internship opportunities are granted to lucky participants.

Folks can enroll a child or sign up to be a mentor through the career mentoring exploration website, or students can find details through their school’s career department.

an adult and a youth sitting at a table working on a project
The Big Brothers Big Sisters of Southwest Washington program recently received a grant that will allow them to expand and grow the mentorship program, especially into rural areas of the state. Photo courtesy: Big Brothers Big Sisters of Southwest Washington

Engle and the Bigs team want to send thanks to current and past partners, including Olympia High School, Timberline High School, River Ridge High School, North Thurston Public Schools, Thomas Architecture Studios, Naked Prosthetics, American Institute of Architects—Southwest Washington, Career Connect WA, Capital STEM Alliance and the Olympia Film Society.

Few things are more valuable than experience. Especially at a time in life when you’re young and able to explore and learn freely. The chance to peek behind the curtain of a career makes all the difference, especially for youth in rural counties or those choosing whether college is right for them.

Partnerships – like mentorships – benefit both parties. Big Brothers Big Sisters and Bank of the Pacific are working to build strong, healthy, informed, resilient kids and communities, one afternoon of bonding at a time.

Sponsored

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
4 Shares