We all commit to mentoring for different reasons. My interest developed from my first internship after graduating from college at a sports marketing agency. I had just been declined for a volunteer internship position at another agency in my hometown and found myself relocating to tackle this new opportunity, a three-month internship in Atlanta.
I was eager and determined. On my first day, I was the first person at the office. With that enthusiasm, I started to develop key relationships that helped mold and develop me as a person. Fortunately, several people took an interest in helping me. One in particular, Kelly Feilke, became a mentor who coached me through the next three years at the agency as I turned two intern stints into a full-time position.
Kelly gave me time, and I soaked up each and every word he shared like a sponge. I recognized almost immediately the importance of his guidance. Just as quickly, I realized that I was not in a position to reciprocate, particularly the amount of help he had given to me. I remember asking once, “How can I pay you back for all you’ve done?” He simply replied, “Return the favor to someone else.”
WISE Within is one way I am repaying my debt.
WISE Within brings WISE’s mission of networking to a more personal level by providing the structure to connect with other members. We are all busy. WISE Within provides a turnkey program. I have participated in the program in Atlanta since 2009. My pairings have provided fulfilling and unique connections I would not have otherwise experienced while the group sessions with all the mentors and mentees provided a contagious energy. WISE Within has introduced me to people I knew (but not well), someone I would have probably never met and another who was able to offer me a different perspective on my day-to-day projects.
Committing to mentoring gives me an opportunity to step away from my work and have a greater discussion or debate a challenge. When I meet with my mentees, I use my brain differently, and these conversations keep me sharp. I don’t want to speak for anyone else, but I fall into ruts from time to time. When I mentor, I talk about other projects from a new perspective and am able to bring that fresh perspective back with me to my world. New approaches and new ideas become easier for me to consider.
Although I have been the mentor, I view the pairing as a partnership from which I can also learn and improve myself. Through my conversations, I have gotten new ideas, reconsidered old methods and validated what I already knew. I would even go so far as to say that stepping away and into the mentoring role makes me a more productive employee and person.
I have benefited greatly with each pairing and have maintained those relationships beyond the program. Return the favor? The pleasure has been all mine.