Every WISE Within pairing is an opportunity to learn, whether you’re the mentor or the mentee. As someone fascinated by life coaching and career mentorship, I had had a variety of experiences with both before joining WISE. During all of those experiences, I was on the receiving end of mentorship, so in 2012, when I was accepted into the WISE Within program as a mentee, I thought it would be a similar process that would carry me through a rough career patch.
What I wasn’t expecting was the camaraderie and support system that the group sessions offered. It inspired me — and still does today — that so many women would give so freely of their time, knowledge, experience and network to help other women through career transitions. We shared stories, laughed and even cried in our sessions, and there were inspirational guest speakers who shared how they overcame adversity.
Despite differences in age, career paths, titles and development, we learned from each other in unexpected ways. We offered advice on how to deal with such challenging situations as reaching that next job title and working with a passive-aggressive boss or co-worker. We forged a community the way only women know how. (If you’re involved in WISE Within, or thinking of participating, be sure to attend the group sessions. It’s an understatement to say it’s worth moving whatever you have that night to attend.)
In 2013, when I was approached about mentoring, I jumped at the chance to give back even just a little of that experience in return. That’s when I was paired up with a young woman who had so much fire and passion and just needed direction.
While I thought I was the one mentoring, she taught me about making sacrifices for one’s family. She shared her frustrations and her aspirations, both of which touched me personally. I looked forward to our lunches, where we had candid conversations about the sports industry and dove into what motivated her. In the end, the career path she sought wasn’t what she wanted after all — and that’s OK. That’s part of the process. It’s as much about learning about oneself as it is finding a path. Our talks prompted me to be more introspective on long-term goals and what I am willing to sacrifice.
All in all, whether you sign up to mentor or be mentored, it’s a rewarding experience that everyone should try at least once. Then, I dare you to not go back for a second turn.