I recently received a text from a younger sister in my sorority asking about my career. Her story was a lot like mine. Her Plan A (post-grad degree) had fallen through, and she wanted to know if I had any career advice for her because she was interested in a field I worked in. We talked, and we brainstormed ideas, and I shared my story with her. She was so grateful and complimentary of my ideas, and that’s when I had to tell her – I didn’t get here on my own.
I’ve worked hard, and I feel like I have a pretty successful career to be 24 years old. On the surface, I look like I have my act together. (Look being the key word… Y’all know better! Haha.) But I didn’t do it by myself.
My sorority sister was interning at an organization that needed a paid intern for a month in January. She knew I was graduating in December, and that I needed a job for the next few months before law school. So I applied, interviewed twice, and got the call months later that the job was mine.
My internship boss invested a lot of time in me. He asked me for ideas, he provided positive feedback and constructive criticism, and most importantly, he treated me like a co-worker instead of like a lowly intern. I felt valued, and I was able to grow.
When I made the decision not to go to law school, a job became available where I was interning. Even though I had a different boss now, my original boss did anything and everything he could to help me. He taught me the best way to write press releases, he gave me contacts, he shared ideas with me about what I could do to take things to the next level. And he asked for my help, as well. I taught him how to efficiently use social media.
Without even realizing it, he became my mentor. He was always there to give me that extra push when I needed it, to give me a project that really allowed me to shine, and to help me when I was on the verge of a meltdown. I got to know his family – his wife who I now consider to be a close friend and his adorable son who I still babysit on occasion. (With the exception of my little brother, he is the only baby I’ve ever bonded with.)
One of the hardest parts of leaving my old job was the fact that I wouldn’t see my mentor every day. About a month into my new job, I was having an awful day. I didn’t feel like I was adjusting properly, I missed my old co-workers, and I missed my old responsibilities. We were supposed to have lunch, and I tried to reschedule… and he flat out wouldn’t let me. I left that lunch feeling like a whole new person.
My advice to you is this – if you don’t have a mentor yet, seek one out. Find someone you admire and respect. Or find someone that you know has walked a similar path to the one you’re on right now. (If you don’t know anyone in a similar situation, ask around. There have been so many times in my life where I’ve confided in someone about what’s going on in my life and they’ve replied with “Oh my goodness, my friend so-and-so had the same thing happen.”) Don’t feel like you need rules on your mentorship. Sometimes I’ll say something about my mentor and I get the response “YOUR MENTOR IS A MAN?!” Yes, he is. And he’s a wonderful one.
My second piece of advice is to be open to mentoring. One trait that I really dislike about myself is that I struggle with sharing. But mentoring other young women has really helped me to change that about myself. Instead of hoarding up my secrets about how I handled an extremely humiliating situation or how I got this awesome blog opportunity, I now try to share them. Someone else’s success doesn’t lessen mine, and it’s pretty cool to see someone achieve something and know that I played a tiny little part in it.
Do you have a mentor? Are you a mentor?
Happy Wednesday, y’all!