Am I a mentor or mentee?
That was one of the first questions I asked myself when I heard about the WISE Within mentor program.
I have some great experience under my belt, so, I reasoned, maybe I’m a mentor. I’ve been fortunate enough to have a well-rounded event planning career working for companies like Eighth Day Sound, where I coordinated sound, lighting and staging for various events; and Great Lakes Brewing Company, where I handled all of the catering. Now, I spend my days at Benjamin Media, where I plan conferences and trade shows. I have a lot to share with someone who wants to get into event planning.
Then I looked at all the amazing event professionals who are members of WISE. I’ve only scratched the surface of my career compared to these women! Looking at that roster, I know now that I’m more of a mentee. How could I possibly teach another mentee as much about the event planning world as someone who has been doing it for 25 years, or who owns her own business?
I discussed my options with the Cleveland WISE Within Mentor Program chair and she encouraged me to be a mentor. At first, I thought the committee made a mistake because I had been matched with a person who owned her own wedding invitation business. But once I learned more about my mentee’s situation, the partnership made sense. She was trying to get back into the corporate world and try something different in the industry. Our main goals were updating her resume, practicing interview techniques and finding additional networking resources. My mentee was very dedicated, and she inspired me to brush up on my skills and update my resume. This experience was very important for both of us, and I think we accomplished a great deal during our time together.
I think most members who are finishing up this program realize that the focus isn’t whether you are a mentor or mentee. You don’t need to play one role or the other. Sure, you technically sign up for the part that best fits your experience when you enter the program, but once you start it’s easy for both parties to learn from each other and gain an extreme amount of professional growth. The experience I had being a WISE Within mentor was incredibly valuable, and I look forward to joining the program again. Who knows … maybe next time I’ll be a mentee.