Personal growth and development can be challenging with a busy schedule, especially when entering a new workplace. Having someone to guide you through a transition or obstacle, however, can be very beneficial -it’s amazing what can be accomplished with just a little encouragement, direction and advice
Written by Ally Heyman, UHM Foundation Intern Summer 2020
The Value of Mentorship:
Personal growth and development can be challenging with a busy schedule, especially when entering a new workplace. Having someone to guide you through a transition or obstacle, however, can be very beneficial -it’s amazing what can be accomplished with just a little encouragement, direction and advice. This type of relationship can have so much value by sparking curiosity and expanding knowledge. The person we are describing here that exemplifies all of these characteristics is often referred to as a “mentor”. At Union Home Mortgage, every summer intern is assigned a mentor during their experience. For myself, it has been uplifting having a consistent, caring model to pull me up when I’m feeling stuck. How did we get our mentors? At UHM, each intern is required to fill out a short survey in order to be matched with the best mentor. I was matched with my mentor, Nathan, who works in our marketing department. We were paired up because of our similarities, interests and needs. This is important when finding a mentor that you can relate to and that can inspire you, even if a formal program like this does not exist. For you, maybe that person is a professor or teacher, a former supervisor or colleague, someone that served in a committee or board with you, a local neighbor, or perhaps someone in an industry you aspire to that you reach out for an informational interview with.
Making the Most of a Mentoring Relationship:
Establishing a relationship with a new mentor can be challenging but the key to success relationship is to make the most of it! Union Home Mortgage partners with a college success non-profit in Northeast Ohio called Minds Matter. Minds Matter of Cleveland serves sophomore, junior, and senior students from twelve high schools in the Cleveland Metropolitan School District and its inner ring suburbs in Cuyahoga County. Their typical student comes from a family with total household income of less than $25,000.They have a dedicated mentoring program that has over 200 young professional volunteers that serve as mentors through all three years. And better yet, they have proven that this system works. They have served 196 Northeast Ohio high school students, 100% of whom have been accepted to a four-year college or university with supporting grants and scholarships upon graduation from their program. Further, 92% of their graduates have graduated from or are currently persisting in college, compared to the standard of their region’s public-school system, currently at 40%. As I spoke with Minds Matter they gave me some insight on how to make the most of a mentoring relationship. They emphasized, above all, that consistency is key. Without consistency, it is hard to connect and understand needs. Meeting weekly is a great start! Nathan and I meet almost every week and enjoy catching up for a quick 30 minutes. We chat about projects, goals and even meet up with other mentors and mentees to play games! In addition to consistency, Minds Matter also highlighted the importance to take the opportunity at the beginning of the relationship to learn about each other and acknowledge each other’s strengths and weaknesses.
What Makes a Good Mentor?
I have had many mentors all throughout my life – whether it was through figure skating, school or in a workplace. The mentors that were the most meaningful were always encouraging, supportive and knowledgeable. As I was chatting with Nathan, I wanted to know his input on what a good mentor looks like. He said, “a good mentor is someone who takes the time out of their day to invest in you and make your professional and personal experiences memorable.” I couldn’t have said it any better! It makes all the difference when you connect with someone and make an experience unforgettable. I challenge you to think about the people in your own life, who have helped you along the way to be the best version of yourself. Maybe they have been your mentor and you haven’t even realized it yet! Maybe it was someone who gave you some constructive criticism and that lead to success. I encourage you to reach out to those individuals who offer you guidance and talk to them about helping you with your professional development goals.