From a young age I was passionate about sports both as a player and spectator, and dreamed of someday having a career. As much as I enjoyed playing, I knew my professional pursuits would be off the field. In college, I discovered public relations and decided that would be the perfect way to pursue a career in sports. But that was 20 years ago, and the sports marketing workplace was very different than what it is now. Simply put, it was not where one was likely to find many women in senior positions.
Unfortunately, when I graduated there weren't many resources to help me define what a career in sports might be. I thought about working for a team or league, but without guidance or direction, I was pretty much on my own, with virtually no idea of the vast possibilities that I could explore, or even how to start. What little advice I got was discouraging women and sports weren't exactly a common match I was told. Without other women around me to provide a nudge or positive reinforcement, I went in another direction and joined a public relations firm specializing in travel and tourism.
But sports never left my heart and I continued to pursue agencies that specialized in sports, eventually landing a junior position at one of the industry's leading sports public relations firms. In the early years, there were very few women whose path I would cross, or were at our agency. I had virtually no female mentors or senior executives to share their collective experience and guidance with me. In a nutshell, there was no WISE Within.
In 2008, I was invited to become a WISE Within mentor. The concept of helping other women looking to benefit from more senior level executives was something that immediately appealed to me. Initially I hesitated saying yes. I was not sure I had enough wisdom to share with others, and was concerned about whether I could commit the time needed to do a good job. But in recalling my own experiences, I decided this was something I needed to do. I wanted to be the mentor I didn't have, and help another woman as she clarified what her own career path would, or could, be.
Being a mentor was a very rewarding experience and gave me some much needed perspective. It reminded me that we all need to do our part to create more opportunities for those coming up behind us. We need to help them not only with jobs, but with the benefit of our own challenges, experience, mistakes, and knowledge. Building relationships with our future leaders is something that benefits us all and I look forward to continuing to be involved for years to come and seeing many bright young executives grow.