Blueprint Mentee: Natalie Chu

Another mentee's reflection from our Blueprint Mentorship Program should inspire you to apply for your own mentor in our January 2016 intake -- but quick! Applications close October 15, 2015.  

Natalie Chu

Development Coordinator

Citimark Development Corp.


What were your main objectives for the Blueprint program?

My main objective of the program was to learn both valuable business and life skills from not only my mentor, but other like-minded individuals. I wanted to get involved in a community that empowers women and encourages both professional and social long-term relationships. As this was my first formal mentorship program, I did not want to set expectations per se. I wanted the relationship with my mentor to develop naturally.


How was your mentor, Carlee Groves, a good fit for you?

Carlee is a charismatic, passionate, and driven individual. We met for the first time prior to the formal launch of the program in January. Within minutes of meeting each other, it felt like we had known one another for years. At that initial meeting, we asked one another what we hoped to achieve throughout this program. We agreed to be open […] with one another and vowed to hold each other accountable. She was the perfect fit for me, and I am grateful to have shared this experience with her.


How did you and Carlee connect and work together throughout the program?

Carlee and I made it a priority to meet at least once a month. We went to a few industry events together, and met before each of our workshops. At these meetings, we'd discuss the progress we both made with respect to our personal and professional goals. In addition, we would talk about some of the challenges that we were facing at work, how we overcame them, and how each of the experiences we faced was a growing and learning opportunity.


What was something Carlee said or did that really stuck with you?

I can be a perfectionist, which can be my demise sometimes. Carlee had a very similar journey through the early stages in her career; she taught me that not all questions can be answered right away, but to embrace the unknown and let fate be my destiny (to a degree, of course). I consider myself to have risk-adverse tendencies. Carlee encouraged me to step out of my comfort zone because risks are not necessarily always bad. Taking risks can result is great outcomes, but without trying, we'll never know what those outcomes are.


What were the most impactful lessons, conversations, or development that came out of your discussions with Carlee?

She emphasized that there are no wrong choices per se, but highlighted that there is something to learn from every experience. It is important to put yourself out there, get involved with the community and be open to new experiences. So long as you are constantly learning and doing, you are moving in the right direction. Personally, I have struggled with what the next steps of my career are. Whether it's pursing a masters degree, continuing with my current career path, travelling, or doing something completely different, the unknown scares me. I have learnt to embrace this journey with open arms.


Did you apply any of your development from this experience to your career?

This experience has taught me about the balance between my career, lifestyle, and relationships. As important as it is to execute tasks, it is equally important to develop one's growth, lifestyle and relationships. I have made it a standard practice to revisit my goals, and constantly develop them. By breaking my goals down into three categories, I have been able to focus on each of them independently and to determine how best achieve them. I have found this to be an extremely rewarding process, and has helped me challenge and push myself.


What was your favourite aspect of the YWiB Blueprint program?

Sharing this experience with others, and seeing the progress of other mentors and mentees was inspiring. I usually attend industry-related events, so it was great to meet women in other industries, and learn the ins and outs of different lines of work.


How has YWiB Blueprint helped develop your career?

This mentorship program has helped me celebrate my achievements to date, and has helped me envision what I want to get out of the next year, five years and ten years of my career. Though I cannot guarantee any given set path to achieve my goals, Carlee and I discussed all different ways to achieve them, and I am excited to see what my future entails. I have made it a goal of mine to take some courses to acquire new skills. I am now inspired to constantly challenge myself with things that I am hesitant of. […]I look forward in pushing myself to new boundaries.


Apply before October 15, 2015 for the January 2016 intake!

Blueprint Mentorship Spotlight: Gloria Eid

  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.


Gloria Eid

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!