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“GEM gave me the confidence to go after the things I want”

Mathurah Ravigulan was one of the amazing GEMgirls in 2016-17 and one of the GEM Scholarship recipients. We interviewed her about her experience in The GEM Program.

Mentorship really makes a difference in a person’s life. I loved how GEM gave me the confidence to go after the things I want.

My favourite part of GEM were the GEMinars because they were at different companies in downtown Toronto and we learned essential skills such as interviewing, personal branding, and goal setting. I love how all the mentors involved in GEM are so fun, easy to approach and will do anything to help their mentees to reach their goals.

I have set and achieved goals I never thought would have been possible without the encouragement of my GEM mentor. She taught me to be bold, and take challenges head on, no matter my age or experience. Being in grade 10, I never would have thought I would get my first internship, or even win a GEM scholarship.

Last year I was feeling discouraged because I wanted to pursue a career in computer science. However, there aren’t that many girls in that industry. GEM has inspired me to break that glass ceiling. I learned how to code, and now I’m volunteering with an organization to encourage girls in technology.

I also got hired as an Outreach Intern at GEM, and that experience has allowed me to be a great candidate for positions in several industries. Now, I am not afraid to reach out to larger companies about internships because GEM taught me that I am capable of doing great things.

GEM helped me to accomplish so many things this year! I started my own company in the Junior Achievement Company Program where I was the Chief Technology Officer. I learned first-hand what it took to run a business, and I felt that I grew as a leader this year. I achieved top ten in my DECA Case study at the provincial competition.

When I learned that I was one of the GEM Scholarships Winners, I couldn’t believe it! I would have never imagined at grade 10 that I would be winning a scholarship. GEM is not only helping me achieve my goals through mentorship, but this award is helping me finance my aspirations. This scholarship is not only an investment in myself, but it’s an investment in the community as well!

I’m currently in the International Baccalaureate Program at Sir Wilfrid Laurier Collegiate Institute and I’m going into grade 11 next year. In the summer I’ll be attending a STEAM-based program called SHAD, and I’ll be staying in the University of Waterloo for a month. In August, I’m doing an internship at RBC for their digital communications department for RBC Connect. I know my journey will not stop here, and I’m so excited to see what’s in store in the future!

 

 

GEM’s Founder shared her career advice with BTNH

GEM’s Founder, Rochelle de Goias, was featured in Be The Next Her, a career blog for women. She was interviewed about her carrer path, why she founded GEM and what challenges women face when following their passion.

Here’s the full interview by Amanda Dipasquale:

-What is your morning routine?
-I’m pretty busy in the morning because I have two young kids. I’m up around 7:00 am to get my nine-month old changed and ready for breakfast. Then I get my two and a half year old ready. We all have breakfast together before things get too busy. Once my eldest is on his way to his programs I get ready for my day.

-Tell us about your career path
-I am the founder of Girls E-Mentorship (GEM), a charity that provides mentorship to girls facing multiple barriers. I studied International Relations and started my career researching international human rights violations, evaluating child labour reduction strategies, and terrorism. I later worked for a government relations firm in Toronto and then transitioned into the provincial government. I knew I wanted to help the youth in our city and give those with limited opportunities the best chance to succeed. So eventually, when the timing was right, I started GEM.

-What challenges do you or women face in your industry?
-I think women and mothers struggle with balancing a family and having a career. I don’t think it’s industry specific. Running an organization takes a lot of time and effort, as does taking care of a family and having a social life. I am constantly learning and trying new ways to make it all work!

-What advice would you give to young girls who want to be the NEXT you?
Follow your passion. When you do something you love it’s not work.
Find a mentor. Mentors are so important and can be helpful at different stages in your career.
Be patient. The path to your dream job can take time but stick with it. You will get there.
Show initiative. Be the person who works harder than everyone else. It’s a fast way to get promoted.
Be positive. Everyone wants to work with someone who is happy and easy to be around.
Never ever burn bridges.

-How do you separate work life from your personal life?
-I work at it every day and my friends and my husband tell me when I’m spending too much time at work or getting too stressed out. That’s when I know I have to take a step back.
I now try and disconnect from my phone and computer in the evenings. Sometimes that’s not possible but I do the best I can.

-What inspires you?
-Seeing GEM and the girls in GEM succeed brings me a huge amount of joy and inspires me to do more. Being a part of a community of women that is passionate about empowering girls is also an incredible source of inspiration.

-When you’re off the clock, what are your indulgences?
-I love spending time with my family. We drive up to the farm on weekends and spend a lot of time in nature. I also enjoy being active so yoga, tennis, and Pilates are all on my list of indulgences.

Photo by Stefania Sgambelluri

Source: Be The Next Her
Photo by: Stefania Sgambelluri

McGill News featured GEM’s mentorship program

GEM’s Founder, Rochelle de Goias, was featured in McGill News Alumni Magazine. She was interview by Brenda Branswell about what inspired her to create GEM and how the organization has grown since 2012.

Here’s the full article Toronto mentors help girls facing multiple barriers by Brenda Branswell: 

 

Fresh out of graduate school and faced with two internship offers, Rochelle de Goias looked for a female mentor for advice. She discovered how hard it was to find one.

In the back of her mind, de Goias says, “I thought A) that was really unfair and B) at some point in my future that I would create something where there was more of a mentorship culture.”
That notion took shape in 2012 when de Goias founded Girls E-Mentorship (GEM), a Toronto-based charitable organization that provides mentoring for girls who are in grades 10 through 12.

One of her goals is to create a mentorship culture within the GTA, and eventually further afield, “so that it isn’t uncommon to have a female mentor at different points in your life and in your career,” says de Goias, BA’01. “And sort of have that old boys’ network transferred into an old girls’ network.”

The program targets girls who face multiple barriers and the schools it works with are in “neighbourhood improvement areas”, identified as such by the City of Toronto. “We had outreach into 42 different schools this year, so that just gives you an idea of how wide our reach is now,” says de Goias, a political analyst and consultant who previously worked for the Ontario government.

The program matches the high school girls with female professionals who act as mentors and work with them over a nine-month period. They stay in touch weekly, meet monthly and discuss curriculum topics. They also attend “GEMinars”, workshops on subjects like time management and interview skills.

“Each GEMinar has a topic and that’s in line with what they’re learning throughout the year,” says de Goias. A mentor and mentee might work on an elevator pitch and then refine it at the GEMinar on personal branding.

If you’re 15 or 16, looking to get a job and meeting someone for the first time, “phrasing that is very difficult for them,” she says. “We help them sort of craft what they’re thinking in their heads into something that they can convey to an adult. And then they practise it so they feel a little bit more comfortable.”

Many of the girls are newcomers to Canada or their parents are, she says. The program states that it mitigates the negative effects of poverty through the one-on-one mentorship.

They’ve discovered that sometimes the girls don’t necessarily believe that they can get out of their situation and may not have women immediately surrounding them who have been successful, says de Goias. “It’s very hard to achieve success if you can’t emulate it with someone or sort of follow what someone close to you has done.

“So that’s one way (to lessen the effects of poverty), by breaking that social divide between the mentor and the mentee and providing that guidance in order to change mentees’ self-perception.”

The program also provides paid internships to several girls, which helps them build their résumés, and offers small scholarships.

“We try and help them be able to either get into college or university through scholarships in order to get to the next level in their life so that employment opportunities are increased.”

The mentors and girls develop a very strong connection in many cases, she says. “The mentors find it extremely rewarding.” And the girls feel so confident by the end of the program, she adds.

“They have said to us that it’s really helping and changing their lives and providing them with opportunities. So it’s pretty cool.”

De Goias, who obtained a master of arts in international relations from the University of London, is married to fellow McGill graduate Duncan Jackman, BA’89.

She says there is interest at GEM in expanding the program and mentions “immense pride” when asked how the experience has been for her.

“It’s hard to describe because you feel wonderful, but it’s more than that. It has sort of taken on a life of its own. It’s my vision, but it’s bigger than me now. And it’s a lot of other people’s vision and they have improved it and made it better. So it’s incredible to be a part of this.”

Source: McGill News Alumni Magazine

GEM: A Real Gem of a Program

Imagine a room full of women with superpowers. Sounds amazing, doesn’t it? Well, you don’t need to look inside a comic book to see these superwomen, because you can see them in real life. They are the ambitious, intelligent and beautiful women that are part of Girl’s E-Mentorship (GEM).

I have had the pleasure of being a part of the GEM program this year. I truly believe that it has changed my perspective of the world around me in addition to teaching me valuable skills for the future. Not only did I learn things like time management techniques and how to ace an interview, I also learned that women are powerful and can achieve great things. I learned that being surrounded by positive, dedicated and determined people will truly change you as well: seeing these wonderful women made me feel motivated to strive to be the best person that I can be.

I also learned the value of having a mentor in your life. I started off as a self-conscious teenage girl, but with the encouragement of my mentor and all my loved ones, as well as the incredible experiences I have had this year, I have become something more. I am now a confident and independent individual that will continue to grow and become the best person that she can.

And I’m not the only one that enjoyed the program. The response to the program has been staggeringly positive: both mentors and mentees expressed how much they loved it. I interviewed both mentors and mentees to see what they had to say. Celine Do, one of the mentees this year says “There aren’t enough words I can use to describe how phenomenal my experience has been with GEM. If you talked to me a day before that first GEMinar, you would be appalled at how nervous, and shy I was. I have grown so much through this program and its valuable curriculum, and because of my mentor, Alison Simpson. We have established an amazing relationship that definitely will not end like my year at GEM.”

Another mentee, Aklil Noza, loved interacting with like-minded individuals and gaining wisdom from successful women. She says, “I feel so much more self-assured after GEM because I face the same hardships as these beautiful girls around me, yet they’ve overcome their obstacles and still managed to shine. So what’s stopping me from doing the same?”

Similarly, the response from mentors has been extremely positive. Siobhan Desroches, who is the Manager of Government Affairs & Stakeholder Relations of the Greater Toronto Airports Authority, says that she became more motivated in her own career as a result of meeting such motivated and focused young women in the program. She also says, “It was incredibly fulfilling to participate in a program working to achieve these goals, and I have never been more hopeful in the future Canadian women after meeting these girls.”

GEM Mentor Liron Davis, who is the Manager of the Indigo Love of Reading Foundation, also spoke about how this program has been one of the highlights of her year and how surprised she was that mentorship evolved into a “friend-like dynamic.”

So to anyone who is thinking of joining GEM as either a mentor or mentee: do it. You will have the most amazing experiences, meet the most talented, creative and awesome women, and grow immensely as a person. You won’t regret it, I promise!

How to dress for an interview

As if figuring out what to wear in the morning isn’t stressful enough, deciding what to wear to an interview can be seen as added pressure. As soon as you walk into the interview room, before you even get a chance to speak, your outfit contributes to the first impression you leave on the interviewer. That being said, you want to dress to impress! To prevent any last-minute panicking, here are some interview outfit ideas:

Option 1 –  The classic blazer

When I think of interviews, the first thing that comes to my mind is a blazer. Not only can you wear a blazer for numerous occasions, but you can pair it with many different outfits –  with a button down, a blouse, and even a dress. Of course, you don’t need to stick with the traditional black coloured blazer, adding a pop of colour makes things fun and can add a bit to your personality.

Option 2 –  The blouse and dress pants/pencil skirt

Blouses in general, are a very elegant and professional spin to just a normal shirt because they act as the foundation for a stylish, layered look. As they come in different cuts and styles, you don’t have to worry about not finding one that suits you. This versatile top can be paired with either dress pants or some skirt (pencil skirts would be the most professional).

Option 3 –The statement dress

Although you want your interview look to be professional, there is nothing wrong with wearing a dress, especially if it makes you feel confident. With a statement dress, you don’t necessary need to add a jewelry or other accessories because the dress speaks for itself. Make sure, however, that both the neckline and hemline are appropriate because you’re there for an interview with a potential employer, not a night out with your friends.

At GEMinar Three: Getting Your Goals, the panelist Natasha Zdravkovic, Recruitment Consultant at Royal Bank of Canada (RBC), said that an important tip is to make sure what you’re wearing is clean: “You want to look like you put effort and care into your outfit because it will project how you feel about the job.”

A little word of advice from Susan Baxter, Vice Chairman for RBC Wealth Management, is that when dressing for an interview, “you should wear something that makes you feel comfortable and confident.” At the end of the day, if you put too much stress on what you’re going to wear you’ll miss out on the real importance: the actual interview.

Remember: the best thing you can wear is your confidence. So, make sure to smile and let your personality shine through, no matter what you wear.