I have been a WISE member for just over a year, and months into my membership, I dove into the experience headfirst by applying to the WISE Within program. Initially, I was quite taken back by the detailed application, the completion of which seemed daunting after a long workday in sports. Little did I know that months later, that application would be my ticket into a truly transitional experience in both my career and role within WISE Chicago.
At the time I was applying to WISE Within, I was beginning a position on a newly developed team at work, navigating a new management style, and it had me feeling a little less confident than usual. I was experiencing the normal “new work culture” jitters and fears of big expectations and the unknown. I put these concerns down on my application, which throughout the year proved to be the springboard to questions I brought to my seasoned mentor in exchange for words of guidance and advice.
My mentor, Sara — whom on paper some might find intimidating based on her many accomplishments with the Chicago Blackhawks — graciously opened her arms and offered her tenured experience to me to learn from. Her commitment to the program and to me as a mentee despite a very busy schedule (the Blackhawks competed in the 2014 playoffs) truly touched me and ranks as one of my most important lessons learned in the program. Time, especially free time outside of work, is a very precious element in a professional’s life. When one dedicates his or her time and takes that time commitment seriously, it shows a truly admirable character trait. In this busy networking-frenzy world, it may be hard to manage personal and professional commitments, but learning the significance of time management has taught me the respect that comes along with fulfilling obligations to others and myself.
Sara and I found a time that worked for both of us. We met early in the mornings at a cafe located halfway between our homes. While some might say 7 a.m. is a little aggressive and too early, for us it just worked. After leaving each one-hour session, I always headed into my day with a refreshed mind, excited about the unknown future. During our time, we spoke freely about our long- and short-term goals as well as our personal lives and travel.
Outside the one-on-one mentoring, I found tremendous value in WISE Within’s small group sessions and the bonding that occurred during happy hours with other program participants. As a newer member, these group events helped me get to know my fellow peers as well as veteran WISE Chicago executive board members. In my experience, there is something wonderful to be said about being a part of an organization. I feel as if I am a valued and appreciated member.
I hope one day when I am more established in my career that I, too, will mentor a fellow woman on best practices and situational lessons on navigation through a still heavily saturated male industry, just like Sara did for me. If I can be even half the mentor that she was to me, then I would consider myself a very successful one.