The Long Arm of Mentoring: A Counterfactual Analysis of Natural Youth Mentoring and Employment Outcomes in Early Careers
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- McDonald, S. & Lambert, J. Am J Community Psychol (2014) 54: 262. doi:10.1007/s10464-014-9670-2
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Young people often develop natural mentoring relationships with nonparental adults during adolescence and young adulthood. While much has been learned about the benefits of natural mentoring for more proximate outcomes such as mental health and education, relatively little is known about the causal impact of youth mentoring relationships on career opportunities. This study uses data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health (Add Health) survey to explore the effects of different kinds of natural mentoring relationships on employment outcomes during the early career years (when workers are in their late twenties and early thirties). Whereas traditional methods of causal conditioning show a broad range of employment benefits from being mentored, results from counterfactual analysis using propensity score matching reveal that the benefits of mentoring are confined to intrinsic job rewards. The findings imply that mentors help steer youth toward intrinsically rewarding careers.