As I mentioned in an earlier blog post about unofficial mentoring, my alma mater, Davidson College, started up an official mentoring program last year, and I was flattered to be asked to participate in the first year. I ended up with two mentees, due to there being more students than mentors. (I asked for the extra mentee, she wasn't foisted upon me.) And I have been very lucky with two bright, enthusiastic, and delightful young women, L. and M.
So we have also been discussing how and where they can take on more leadership roles. L. had a long debate about going on an abroad program this summer and also one in the fall semester, and how that will affect her resume later, with no job or internship this summer. I helped M. with prepping for her internship application and interview (nailed it!) and I hope she's enjoying it.
At the end of the summer when we were wrapping up the school year, I thought about the commitment I had made (I could have stopped being their mentor in the spring, like a lot of the people mentoring seniors, but I have decided to stick with them until they graduate.) And I was surprised to find how much I personally felt I had gotten out of these relationships. I realized how far I had come. I could see myself in them, and I can see myself now, and in fact I can see that they're a little bit impressed with me. And I need to give myself credit for all my own accomplishments. It's rare that we ever stand back and look at our careers and see where we've come and what we've done. I also got a renewed enthusiasm for my career and field. I don't love my job every day. I don't know anyone who does. But when I talk about why I got into it and what I do love about it for a few hours twice a month, it helps those positives stay at the forefront of my mind. And I enjoy giving advice! Particularly to people who actually will take it! I can't tell you how excited I was when L. showed me that credit card and told me how she'd gone to her bank over Thanksgiving break and sat down with them and applied. We of course discussed using credit smartly, and we discussed her credit score, her credit report, and what are good things (having a long history of credit) and bad things (not paying) that will affect it.
I feel like I have made a couple of dear friends, and I am so looking forward to seeing where they go in the next few years. I do have high expectations, as I know how much potential they have, but I will also be there to help when they stumble, as we all do. If you have an opportunity to be a mentor, I know it will take some time, but do it! I promise, you'll get much more out of it than you think.