Mentors' Influence on Mexican American Students' Career and Educational Development

By Flores, Lisa Y.; Obasi, Ezemenari M. | Journal of Multicultural Counseling and Development, July 2005 | Go to article overview

Mentors' Influence on Mexican American Students' Career and Educational Development


Flores, Lisa Y., Obasi, Ezemenari M., Journal of Multicultural Counseling and Development


Effects of mentoring on Mexican American high school students' career aspirations were examined. Results indicated most students had a mentor, and mentors were most helpful through role modeling, verbal encouragement, personal support, and providing career guidance. Gender differences were found on several outcome variables but were not detected based on sex or ethnic match, or the presence of a mentor.

Los efectos de mentoring en estudiantes mexicanos de la high school en aspiraciones de carrera se examinaron. Los resultados indicaron la mayoria de los estudiantes tuvieron un mentor, y mentores eran muy utiles por el papel que modela, el finimo verbal, apoyo personal, y proporcionar la guia vocacional. Las diferencias del genero se encontraron en varias variables del resultado pero no fueron discernidas basado en la presencia de y del sexo o el igual etnico con un mentor.

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Career development encompasses behaviors across the life span that are related to planning, selecting, entering, and adjusting to an educational program or occupational role (Osipow & Fitzgerald, 1996). The tasks that are most relevant in adolescents' career development include exploration, planning, and tentatively choosing their future careers. The importance of mentors or role models on the career development of adolescents and young adults has received increasing attention in the literature over the past decade. The presence of a mentor has been hypothesized to be especially influential in the career process of individuals from groups that are underrepresented in an educational setting or career field, such as women and diverse racial and ethnic groups (Betz, 1994; Bingham & Ward, 1994; Leong & Serafica, 1995; Wright & Wright, 1987). Although scholars have argued for the importance of mentors in the career development of racial and ethnic minorities, relatively few studies have examined empirically the influence of mentors with individuals from these populations.

The challenges surrounding Mexican Americans' attainment and achievement in areas related to education and career have been well documented (e.g., McNeill et al., 2001). Understanding the impact of family members and other important people on Mexican Americans' career decision making has been identified as an area in need of further research (Arbona, 1996). Thus, the purpose of this study was to investigate mentors' effects on the educational and career development of Mexican American high school students.

A mentor can be defined as a person who provides advice or models a particular behavior that is valuable to another person. A mentor-mentee relationship can result from direct contact or through vicarious learning. The benefits to students and early career professionals involved in a mentoring relationship include career advancement, career guidance, professional development, building a professional network, psychosocial support, increasing a sense of one's identity, and economic rewards (Dreher & Chargois, 1998; Dreher & Cox, 1996; Fagenson-Eland, Marks, & Amendola, 1997; Wright & Wright, 1987). A mentoring relationship can advance one's career development when mentors provide their mentees with the requisite skills to gain entry into and progress in a profession, such as negotiating a salary, critical thinking, and problem solving. Moreover, mentors can assist mentees in identifying the necessary resources to achieve career goals. Mentors can provide students and young professionals with an introductory network of professionals in the field by introducing students to colleagues. Having a positive mentoring relationship can provide an environment that accepts, confirms, and promotes a student's abilities, which in turn may increase the student's personal and professional identities.

Research has suggested that racial and gender similarities between the mentor and mentee can lead to favorable outcomes. …

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