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Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Mentors - Lessons Learned

Without the encouragement of Emerging Leaders, I probably would not have sought out the two women who have now become incredible mentors in my life. 

I first had the great privilege of meeting with a strong, candid and independent woman who works as the Vice President of Administration for a private foundation focused on science research. She was the first person I have met in my parent's generation (age 65+) who gave me this advice: life is too long - not too short - to stay at the same job for years and years. take risks, leave if you're unhappy and try something new. don't let anyone tell you that in order to have a successful career you need to have worked at one place for 10+ years. Her fresh perspective was incredibly inspiring to me - and she was living proof of her own advice.   

My first mentor recommended that I also meet with her friend. She is the President/CEO of a historic girls-focused national non-profit. She too was incredibly open and honest, and I was struck with how down-to-earth she was even in such a prominent professional role. The questions that she asked me and the responses they solicited made it crystal clear how much my supervisor has invested in me as an employee. Our conversation inspired me to go straight to my supervisor to thank her again for supporting me, advocating for me and offering me so many important opportunities - including the Emerging Leaders program. 

Lessons learned? Seek opportunities that interest and challenge you - and take them. Don't turn them down because they don't fit into some prescribed path. Invest in your employees and remember to thank those who invest in you. 

- Julia FG Smith

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