In 2014, WISE expanded with a new chapter in San Diego. I was thrilled! Getting more involved in WISE on a local level was very appealing (I loved the LA chapter, but didn’t love the 90-minute drive!).
I had left a corporate job that January, and the transitional period was freeing, but also a bit maddening — as can be the case with any major change. WISE Within came calling, and I loved the idea of partnering with a younger professional as part of my newfound freedom. When I researched the program, one of the benefits of being a mentor that spoke to me the most was “the opportunity to reflect upon and share the successes and challenges” of my personal career journey.
Immediately, I found it interesting that even with a nearly 15-year difference in age, my mentee and I were very much alike. She was driven, looking for her “dream” job and eager to forecast the next five years of her career. She was just starting a new job (like me), and it was different from the dream job with a professional sports team that she was craving. As for me, I was perplexed by a decision of my own: whether to return to working for a professional sports team or pursue consulting full-time with pro athletes and special events.
Every three to four weeks, we met to discuss the key points on her mind. I would encourage her to remain positive during challenging times — office conflicts, the adjustment to a new manager and the like — and stress that it is OK to want more, but to appreciate every experience as a lesson that helps us grow. It’s not always easy to accept our current reality, but we can acknowledge the daily successes and express gratitude with the knowledge that it will lead to something more. We worked on her résumé, and it was a great moment to reflect on the skills and experience she was gaining. We also talked about overcoming disappointment and took time to do fun activities, such as golf and happy hours to celebrate our successes.
Throughout the year, I realized how fortunate I was to be matched with my mentee. I found myself motivated and happy after each time we met. Not only was she a great person and someone I could relate to, but I also started taking my own advice, acknowledging that it’s OK not to know what the future will bring, enjoying my current projects, stopping the fast pace I was accustomed to, and being grateful for the opportunity to seek my ideal clients. I was able to find closure with aspects of my own career path and focus solely on consulting.
I don’t think we ever stop learning, and we certainly don’t always learn the most from our elder peers. I’m grateful. I gained as much from the experience as I think my mentee did, and the result was a relationship that I hope to have with her for a long time to come.