Our 2017 Mentoring Program wraps up this August! Thanks to everyone – mentors and mentees – who contributed their time and insights. We’re excited to share our some of our successes and lessons learned!
My Mentoring Team met up on a sunny Sunday in July to discuss our progress and questions going forward. This was our second in-person meeting (the first one being in February) – and we had a Skype meeting in between. We had a lot to discuss and celebrate – it has certainly been a busy last few months for everyone!
I came into the Mentoring Program with an unclear sense of where my career was going. Even though I had friends and family sharing advice, and formal evaluation at work, I was missing the resources to fine-tune my direction and reach the next level. At our final meeting, our mentor described what we were experiencing as making it through the “beginner’s mud”. Those graduating from college may have a strong sense of confidence, accomplishment, and identity. When we enter the workforce, we need to re-orient to new environments and routines. Being in a new schedules and adapting to organizational politics may affect of our energy and identity. Throughout this process, we may lose our way: feel unsure what direction to go in, where to put our energy, and how to communicate effectively. We may get stuck in reactionary mode and unable to see the bigger picture.
It takes plenty of work to get out of the “beginner’s mud”. Throughout the six month program, I would often write to my mentor via e-mail with questions I had and frame the challenges I was running into. I kept track of how I felt: What types of experiences made me feel empowered, which types made me feel unsure of myself? Identifying those feelings and responding with actionable steps was key. Having an experienced professional — who was, in fact not in my same professional field — to help troubleshoot and clarify my thinking along the way, was a tremendous resource. I believe we as “beginners” (or not) truly need this kind of feedback in order to become polished and confident professionals.
Examine Your Writing
Our mentor mentioned that simply the way one presents issues and describe the context, can reveal how confident you are and how much direction you have. It is great to write out your goals and questions throughout the mentorship process, so you can track your growth: skills and mindset. Saving six months worth of communications can tell a great story!
Can your mentor, or anyone else, understand what you need help on, based on your writing? If you feel too overwhelmed to begin anything, can you write out everything you’re worried about?
My mentor and I looked at my first and final questions side by side, and the difference was clear. My first set of questions were vague and tentative, revealing how lost I was. The second set were very focused and full of context for where I am now and where I’m headed.
We were excited to hear back from our other mentees about how they are doing. Here are some things our mentees achieved in the past six months:
I went to a very good event offered by one of our group member’s employer
Landed new position – dream job!
I met some great women professionals and formed new friendships.
Knowing what I don’t want, and surviving in a toxic environment while realizing it isn’t about me. It motivated me to think about my career and what my goals are and to take action. I revert back to my comfort zone often and realized it’s finally time to take action and get out!
I personally felt like it was a great feedback I got from the mentor that I was able to apply it for my future position.
I affirmed myself more and gained more confidence.
Take the courage to actually seek help. though I am not very good at seeking help from others.
Understanding personality types and career choices
We discussed a lot of Meyers Briggs. I loved learning about how I can better communicate with folks with different personality styles.
Discussing managing people
Stuck with a very difficult situation to get to the next stage.
We’re encoded to think that irreplaceable means that ‘I can do something that no one else can do’. But in fact, the most irreplaceable people are the ones that empower others to do something they couldn’t do before.
Developer Tea, episode “Developer Career Roadmap: Step 9 Replace Yourself“
This quote jumped out to me as just the other day I attended a webinar where the speaker asked the attendees to “write out the skills/qualities that make you irreplaceable”. It is often easy to default to our competitive nature, i.e. how much value we as individuals have compared to others. I love the way the quote above flips this idea, the shift of perspective is so supportive. Knowing everything and being able to do everything is not necessarily something we should endlessly strive for (what a relief!).
How can we continue supporting each other in our day to day careers? As our program concludes, we on the Women Accelerators team challenge you to take this idea into your career, whether you consider yourself a mentor or not.
Our next Mentoring Program will start in early 2018. Please check our website in late 2017 if you’re interested in participating.