101 in 1001 #34: Mentor someone, in or out of the workplace.

Thus far in my professional career, I’ve been fortunate enough to experience some really good and some really bad mentors. I say fortunate because the good ones have taught me and helped shape my career and my development for the better…and the bad ones have shaped how I in turn mentor (rather, don’t mentor).

As far back as staff 1 busy season at EY, I had opportunities to step up and coach, train, and mentor interns. That responsibility grew as I advanced through the firm, and it was something I knew I’d miss when I left. At my current employer, though, I’ve gotten lucky and quickly involved myself with the E-Mentors program.

E-Mentors is a program run through BestPrep geared toward exposing high school students to the professional world early on. Geared primarily toward students identified as needing a little extra help, BestPrep offers a variety of resources for students around business, career and financial literacy skills through hands-on experiences. The E-Mentors program pairs each student with a mentor in the professional world to exchange emails over a 12-week period, with a meet-and-greet at the professional’s workplace partway through.

Travelers has been a longtime partner with BestPrep, running mentorship pairings every fall and spring for groups of around 40 students. I participated last fall and this spring, and am looking forward to this fall’s upcoming cycle! Each of my students was enrolled in a special, business-focused class that incorporated E-Mentors into the curriculum, and we exchanged emails every Monday over the course of their semester.

I always kind of thought that a mentor-mentee relationship was one in which the mentor gave and the mentee took, but Olukayode and Terriona both took me by surprise. Their emails were funny, both based on content and form, and their genuine curiosity about life in a professional workplace was unexpected. I probably totally overwhelmed them with the extent and depth of the responses I sent back, but I loved getting to share (and, hi, long-windedness has clearly never been a problem for me).

The meet-and-greets were easily the highlight of my experience thus far with E-Mentors. Both sessions featured a quick pizza lunch and some icebreaker question and answers, presentations by a few of the student mentees, a tour of our building, and an in-person session on résumé review. It was hilarious and nostalgic to watch the high-schoolers interact with each other and with their mentors, and seeing their reactions to my workplace kind of helped reaffirm how lucky I am to get to be where I am every day.

Having a chance to act as a mentor is something I value, and I’m grateful that my employer has made the opportunity available. If you’re interested, see if your employer offers something similar…BestPrep is all over the Twin Cities and is super active with most big companies nationally!

To see what else I’ve been up to on my 101 in 1001, pop over here!