What is a mentor? At this word, we might picture someone sophisticated, accomplished and trustworthy. We respect them, and we show this by lending our ears, eager to soak up the experiences and guidance they offer. Who are they? Have we met them?
What is a mentee –– someone earnest, budding and inspired? They may take a path laid before them or pave one of their own. We watch them, tend to them, admire them. And just as we celebrate their success, they learn from ours. Do we have a mentee? How do we know?
These questions offer many answers, but none that are definite because mentorship is dynamic, personal and imprecise. We find it in our teachers, our families, our coworkers. Our mentors live on television, in books and on our phones. Mentorship can be explicit or unstated, conscious or hidden. It can span decades or come and go in a moment's time. No matter how it happens, it changes each person involved.
This year, I had the opportunity to find a new mentor. With NC State AMA's Mentorship Program, members are paired as a mentor or mentee with another AMA member or a local professional. Together, both parties form a lasting and impactful relationship for each to learn from.
I entered the program with a lot of ideas (and just as many questions) about what I wanted to do while I was still in college and where I wanted to go after. I had two minors, four industries and countless careers on my mind, and I felt excited but overwhelmed by the possibilities. I joined the Mentorship Program to make a new friend, learn from their experiences and grow from their advice.
AMA could not have paired me with a better match. As an English major in a business club, I was worried that I may not have much in common with my mentor, but that was not the case. My mentor, Beth, came from a similar educational background with a career in my desired field and professional experiences that mirrored those of the greatest mentor in my life –– my mother. It was immediately clear that AMA took great care in building meaningful connections between their participants and wanted this program to make a difference in their members' lives.
Though I can get nervous around new people, my first meeting with Beth was incredibly comfortable. As she explained her journey through college to her job at SAS, her interests and her motivations, I listened intently and found that we shared many similarities. By the time I left, I was inspired to create an online portfolio, revamp my resume with her helpful edits and develop an additional resume in the form of an infographic. I felt positive, inspired and eager to return.
This excitement carried me through the semester to four more meetings with Beth, where we met her colleagues, practiced mock interviews, developed personal pitches and chatted over lunch. I'm thankful that our relationship has endured beyond the semester's end and into the new school year.
But Beth is not my only mentor. I've learned that mentorship is most impactful when it is approached holistically throughout our lives. Today, I take my lessons learned from Beth and combine them with those of my professors, my boss, my parents, my friends. They supply a rich variety of professions, backgrounds and interests, and as I absorb their knowledge and experiences, they mix and transform to become a part of who I am. At NC State AMA, we do the same thing. Each member joins us with their own life story to tell. We are all each other's mentors and mentees, and together, we set NC State AMA apart.