When you look back at the days at school or early in your career, is there a boss or a coach who made a positive difference in your life? That's the kind of relationship that a mentor provides: someone who serves as a role model, cheerleader, advocate and friend, sharing their experiences and offering sage advice. Mentoring opportunities abound today, through professional organizations in your area of expertise (whether accounting, auto repair or public relations) or through mentoring-focused organizations such as the National Mentoring Partnership.
Big Brothers/Big Sisters is another popular mentoring organization that pairs a child with a role model. You'll spend time doing things with a child or teenager that you enjoy, whether it's reading books, playing sports or helping out with homework. The results are well worth the time volunteers invest: Researchers found that after 18 months of spending time with their Big Brother and Sisters, mentees were 46 percent less likely to begin using illegal drugs and 52 percent less likely to skip school [source: Big Brothers/Big Sisters].