Many of the mentors who have participated in WISE Within will say the same thing: The experience is mutually beneficial. They get as much from it as they hope their mentees do.
WISE chair and president Kathleen Francis reinforced that very idea just days before Thank Your Mentor Day. Mentoring is a two-way street, she said, at WISE NYC Metro’s Speed Mentoring Roundtables on Jan. 14.
But the WISE Within national signature event provided more than one singular path. Thanks to the more than 30 professionals who participated as mentees and the six industry veterans who served as mentors, the event offered unlimited avenues through which to explore the development of women in the industry.
The exchange of ideas was casual and continuous as mentors rotated through small groups of mentees for three 15-minute sessions that tackled the mentee-selected topics of leadership development, managing strengths and weaknesses, and demonstrating value.
The roundtable format gave mentees an opportunity to unearth a trove of information.
While one-on-one mentoring is always valuable, said Patricia Bifulco, one of the event’s mentors, the group approach allowed mentees to not only address what was on their minds, but then expand their thinking by hearing what was on the minds of their peers.
“There is learning across the board,” said Bifulco, who is also a member of WISE NYC Metro’s board of directors.
Bifulco also found that while one mentee would bring up a particular experience, concern or question related to the topic, when she turned to the others in the group, they often nodded in agreement, having shared a similar experience.
The reassurance that comes with knowing that you are not alone cannot be underestimated.
“Sometimes when you are dealing with an issue and especially if you feel it is really big, you can start to feel isolated or you can start to feel like, 'This is more than I can take on,' so hearing that other people might be experiencing something similar or might have experienced it in the past, it just lets you know, ‘OK, somebody else has gone through it or is going through it, and maybe that’s another resource that I can tap into to get some thoughts or advice — or a sanity check.’”
The group setting combined with the fact that everyone — mentees and mentors alike — was there because of their dedication to the development and promotion of women in the industry provided a level of comfort.
“In this format, it’s really easy and open to ask some tough questions, [whereas] in a one-on-one situation, somebody might be intimidated,” said Abby Peterson, an assistant account executive who participated as a mentee. “Here, [it] is really open and free, and you know people are willing and want to give that advice.”
The one-to-many approach of Speed Mentoring Roundtables was a great reminder for all involved: We are not alone, we can’t do it alone and — equally as important — there are many avenues to get where we want to be.
Read more at http://wiseworks.org/resources/within/roundtable/SMRworks/ and http://wiseworks.org/resources/within/news/2014/.
See event photos at https://www.facebook.com/WISEworks.