From the moment we begin to think about the future we expect ourselves to have the perfect plan all laid out, which is unfortunately not as simple as a quick Google search or answer from Alexa. Perfectly laid out plans do not exist but shared experiences do. When you are hesitant to check out a new restaurant, you ask around and get reviews before you make a decision to go. Mentorship is just like that. When you are unsure, underprepared or unfamiliar with a potential opportunity, you can rely on your mentor to provide you firsthand insight.
I was in the eleventh grade, halfway through high school, on the cusp of adulthood with the ever-growing anxiety and societal pressure of knowing and deciding what exactly I wanted to do after graduation. Luckily for me, I knew that I wanted to pursue a career in business because I was fascinated by the idea of being at the forefront of an area that touched every aspect of my life. But the dilemma I faced, was I had all this passion and drive but lacked the confidence in pursuing it because I was afraid of failure and how to stand out in a sea of competition.
The greatest dilemma we face when making life decisions is indecisiveness; university or college, science or business, take the risk or wait for a better time. See, I was not the first person who was at a crossroads, unsure and hesitant about my future. Granted everyone has situationally unique factors but just like sharing a postal code with your neighbour, being a part of a global one direction fandom or having the passion to start a company, we share experiences. The power of mentorship lies in the fact that some person out there has been through what you are going through, and managed to navigate the situation to overcome challenges faced along the way. In essence, mentors not only help and guide you towards accomplishing your goals but also help you navigate an unfamiliar portion of your life.
Mentorship is not a one-way street, where only one person benefits from the experience. So it is important to note what you as a mentee bring to the table. In my own experience, it was knowing how much I could benefit from my mentor’s extensive experience but also understanding that it wasn’t only about me. I initially felt unsure of how I could contribute, being a high school student and having never worked professionally in my life. What I quickly realized is no two people share the same perspective and that me speaking up and sharing mine helped me contribute in a meaningful way. It was with my very first two mentors that I realized my potential, which continually plays a tremendous role in shaping my successes.
The greatest life lessons I learned from my mentors include:
1. The 80 vs. 90 on your report card is not a question of your intelligence but an opportunity for improvement.
2. Soft skills are developed, technical skills can be taught
3. You have value. You have worth. Your life experiences matter.
4. Your personal brand defines you.
5. Balance optimism and realism.
My mentors really impacted how I thought about my career because to me, they were people who had built themselves up to becoming empowered business leaders and their vote of confidence really empowered me. From studying at the University of Toronto to working at a retail technology and electricity company, my mentors have prepared me to face challenges head-on, navigate ambiguity and how to grow and move forward in my professional career.
Fast forward to today and not only have I been mentored by a number of incredible people, but I also strive to become a mentor myself because of the admiration and respect I have for all the people who have dedicated their time to help me. I hope that one day I can give back in the same way. #EmpowerToPower #MentorshipMatters
Thank You Alexis Wolski, Alison Simpson, Sabina Ghose and Lavina Sharma for your guidance and kindness.