Our mentorship cohort that graduated this June all achieved, learned, and grew in many ways over coffee chats, workshops, and hard work for six months together. Each one of them reflected that these relationships gave them new perspective into their careers and selves, more clarity on where they were headed and how to get there efficiently, and a ton of support.
In anticipation of mentee applications opening again for our 2016 cohort in just one week, September 1, we highlight one mentee's experience.
Current Job: Program Manager, UBC
Blueprint Participant: Mentee
What were your goals for YWiB Vancouver's Blueprint program?
In October, I had an idea to start a blog focused on communication, creativity, and teamwork. In only the first few years of my career, I've learned many lessons from the workplace and I wanted to build an avenue to share these experiences with other young professionals. I was interested in learning more about the entrepreneurial lifestyle and the transition from working for a business to having your own.
Describe your mentor, Conny Millard, and how she was a good fit for you.
It feels like I could not have had a better fit for a mentor! One of my favourite things about her approach to business is that she is full of strategy and planning, yet so naturally starts from the heart in all that she does. It's also how I aspire to live and work.
What was something Conny said that really stuck with you?
After I launched my blog, Conny published a blog post herself that featured me. It took me by complete surprise, but it was so touching. That small action really meant a lot to me, as she was one of my biggest supporters and motivators behind launching my blog.
What inspired you most about Conny?
The boundaries she has learned to set for herself to build a life and business she loves. I'm also inspired by her own dreams that she is currently building and putting into action. It's inspiring to see my own mentor take on new challenges and growing as well!
What were the most valuable lessons, conversations, or development that came out of your discussions?
During one of our conversations, I was focusing a lot on feelings of disappointment during a time of a challenge and change management at work. Only a few months into the change, I couldn't help but feel like I was not doing enough, and was being hard on myself. She listened and let me share it all, and then simply said, "Now tell me, from your work in these last few months, what are the changes you have made so far? What are the things you are proud of?" It took me a few moments to shift my mindset, but I was able to share five or six significant changes and contributions, both big and small, I made in my first few months of the role. I felt a release after that exercise, and was reminded to be gentle with myself.
In another conversation, Conny was sharing some of the work her clients do and with my background in professional communication, she asked me for some thoughts around presentations/public speaking and other communication practices. Her response and comments to my suggestions were so positive and encouraging! She showed such interest and excitement in what I had to say, and I truly felt like I was offering expertise and valuable suggestions. I felt validated in my knowledge and experience, and was reminded that I do have things to offer in the world of professional communication and people development.
Did you use anything you worked on with Conny in your career?
So much. One example: as with many of us with a job that is driven by emails and meetings, I have difficulty carving out time in the workday for project work and thinking time. In a conversation with Conny, I proposed that I would block out time in my calendar during the first hour of every morning strictly for project work, and will never start the day with a meeting. From 11:30-1pm, I block out time for exercise and lunch. The last half hour of every day is meant for a wrap-up and a plan for the next morning's hour of project work. I'm excited to see how I keep this up throughout the summer months, when work gets into really high gear.
Another example is removing the fluff from my emails. As someone who values professional and respectful communication, I spend a lot of time crafting emails - the tone, subject line, sign-off, etc. - even with emails to my direct team. Recently I told my team to not expect all the fluff anymore. My responses will be short and direct as much as possible to my team, so that I can spend the time on emails to people and partners who need the effort. My direct team was very supportive and encouraging, and, in fact, felt permission to do the same when they need it! While I thought I would be viewed as choosing not to be thorough with them, they all understood it was just a way to keep things simple during challenging and hectic times. Keep communication clear and open first, then just keep it simple.
I feel very lucky to have been given the opportunity to participate in the program and have absolutely loved the relationship I've built with my mentor.
Want to apply for YWiB Vancouver's mentorship cohort starting January 2016? We are accepting applications starting September 1, 2015. Just go to the Blueprint Mentorship page for more details!