Career Discovery: Mentorship

I have always considered myself to be ambitious, a go getter, and driven. However, from an early age I always set the bar for myself too high. So what I thought was ambitious, was actually impossible. At least for me. I held myself to over the top expectations rooted in my own insecurities and fear of failure. What I didn’t realize, until much later, was that those expectations were getting in the way of my potential. While, insecurities and fear of failure are still very real components of my life, everyone has insecurities and fears. That is life. However the good news is, I no longer allow myself to be controlled by those insecurities and fears. By doing that, I know that I can achieve anything.

You may be asking, “what does this have to do with your career journey?”, or better yet “what does that have to do with mentorship?”. Well, if it weren’t for the mentors I had during my early career, those deeply rooted insecurities may have won out. If that happened, I would not be where I am today.

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During my internship I had an amazing set of mentors that I am happy to say I still can connect and talk with at any point in time. I couldn’t of asked for a better internship experience. The people that I worked with, took the time out of their day to teach me common practices and strategies that I had not yet learned. I was far from a coffee-fetching, phone answering intern, and they made sure of that. They frequently would provide feedback to me regarding the quality of my work, and personal strengths and weaknesses. The level of transparency, and kindness that came from each person was profound. The positive reinforcement coupled with proper training and care for the success of every employee (including an intern) made a huge difference for me. It built my confidence not only in myself, but in how I could see myself work within a company. It took that fear of being “new” and “inexperienced”, and made it into excitement for new challenges.

In an agency job I had a few years later, I felt very much the same way I did at that internship. I was recovering from a previous negative work environment that took a serious emotional toll on me. My brand-new boss at the time, took the time to sit down with me and just talk about my experience. He genuinely cared about making sure that I was comfortable in my new environment and was able to come to him or anyone else if ever anything happened. It made a huge difference on my outlook in where I fit in the work world after such a terrible experience with a prior company. His belief in me, repositioned my confidence in myself. Bonus points, even though I was miles away from the main office at this job, I still received continued training, encouragement, and feedback every single day. Empathy really makes a difference.

My point with this is, that through the efforts of continued transparency, training, and empathy, my personal outlook on my career was positively impacted by these amazing mentors. I am forever grateful for these mentors, and strive to be that kind of mentor for someone one day.

Early in your career did you have a mentor that shaped how you saw how you fit in the workplace? Did they help in other ways too? Did they use transparency, training, and empathy, or was it something else? I want to know your experience. Comment below.

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