A Mentor's Reward
Updated: Jan 31
I didn't need to add anything else onto my already full plate. But, like many ambitious women, I find myself needing a break often. Ironically, while on a break, I decided I wanted to do more than just chase after my own goals; I wanted to help someone else achieve theirs as well. It's the core of my professional life as a talent manager and executive coach, and naturally, helping others is a core facet of my personal life. I was blessed to have a very supportive and knowledgeable group of people encouraging me along my professional journey, so how could I not "pay it forward"?
I did a quick search and landed on the WEDC Foundation's webpage. It felt like the perfect place: a diverse community of strong women focused on building communities of strong women. I was matched with a non-traditional student who, like me, is a working mom. The bonus is that she dreams of opening a restaurant one day and being a "foodie" myself, we instantly clicked. Working full-time, taking a full course load, raising children as a single mom, and trying to do it all with minimal support and guidance is problematic. It's a great deal to balance when sometimes the people you think will support you emerge as saboteurs.
A lack of support tacked on to limiting beliefs, and a crazy schedule full of responsibilities can quickly derail one's plans. Yet, if that same person receives help along the journey, there's no telling where their plans will take them and their circle of influence.
Why mentoring is so important to me, it's about community. I believe the connections, guidance, stories, and tools I share with my mentee are helping to keep the negativity at bay and the roadblocks more manageable. I hope my voice is louder than the naysayers, even if it is her own. I hope she knows that her dreams of having a stable career that allows her to provide for her family are worthy of coming true. By earning her bachelor's degree, I know that she'll open so many doors for herself and her children.
Two key mentoring takeaways that I'll carry with me are "start with no expectations" and "show up in a way that matters to the mentee versus the way that matters to you." That may mean meeting on the fly, reviewing a resume, sending an encouraging text, or just checking in, so she doesn't feel alone. My mentoring experience has been rewarding, and I look forward to witnessing her transition from a mentee and scholar to a community of strong women focused on building strong women. xoxo,
Tawana Townsend WEDC Foundation Mentor