@FastCompany -- glad you enjoy the cupcakes. I brought them as a reminder of how our She's the First campus chapters have fundraising bake sales that provide scholarships to girls in low-income countries around the world (see shesthefirst.org/cupcakes) -- and mentorship is a big part of those education programs we fund :)
@Tammy you are amazing. This room smells like watermelon.
@Tiffany you are most welcome, and always welcome.
hi Devin: Sponsors take that extra step; they use their reputation and influence to go to bat for you. Rather than just edit my mentee’s cover letter, for example, if I’m her sponsor, I will call up the hiring person if I know them and say, you HAVE to hire this woman. I’ll be vocal and put my reputation on the line for him or her (I'll never forget, that's what my first boss at Hearst Digital Media did for me, to get me hired full time when I was a freelancer at first)
Yes yes yes - a sponsor expends their political capital on you. That is the tipping point.
Did you read the chapter in Sheryl Sandberg's book where she likens the "Will you be my mentor?" question to the "Are you my mother?" children's book? I find the best mentorship relationships are the ones that don't have you questioning if you have the time and the mentee doesn't even have to ask to make it official--it just organically happens. The mentor wants to do it so much that you make the time. If someone asks you, "Will you be my mentor?" you might say something like, "I would love to support you. I have limited time to commit but if you email me specific questions I will do my best to help you or connect you with someone who can."
@Tammy agreed 100%. The best way to start a mentorship relationship is to build rapport by exchanging questions and insight. Technology can enable us to do this at scale.
Why is mentorship important for women in particular?
Mentorship is critically important in helping you ramp up the learning curve in your career faster than you would on your own. Why would you go through your years experiencing your own trial and error when you can accelerate the progress and reduce the error by connecting with other people? You are stronger when you are networked with people who can teach you something that is on the path ahead of you before you encounter it. For women in particular, historically we have spent less time in the workforce than our male counterparts - we are in the first 50 years of women's FULL integration in the workforce (that is crazy). Boy's clubs have been around for a really long time, and men have learned how to connect with one another and help each other over hundreds of years. As a first generation college graduate entering the workforce for the first time, there were many unwritten rules I felt like I didn't know, and I wasn't sure who to ask. Let's be stronger together and learn from each other and shift our approach to one of #womenhelpingwomen.
I'm obviously all about girl power, so my answer might surprise you. If you visit shesthefirst.org, you'll understand why we fund girls' scholarships, which is inclusive of mentorship, internationally in particular (there's a huge gender gap in access to quality education in low-income countries) but honestly, I feel mentorship is EQUALLY important to young men and women. Speaking to She's the First, that's why we're so proud our campus chapters are co-ed and we work really hard to offer young men in that network the same access to great mentors as young women.
Demonstrate impact. And gratitude. Again, the token of kindness and thankfulness that you can offer a mentor in exchange for their "brain work" is looping back with them and (1) playing back what you heard and (2) demonstrating the impact of their feedback on something you did or thought about differently. Often times (1) and (2) happen at different times, so what I do is loop back on (1) right after my conversation with the mentor and just say "thank you so much for your time - this is what I learned from you today" so that they know that you listened and are grateful for their time, and then I loop back on (2) once the topic we discussed has come to fruition or the time period in which I have incorporated their feedback is complete. There is nothing more satisfying to a mentor than knowing they changed the course of your career for the better.
That's all the time we have today. Thanks so much to Tammy and Caroline for a really interesting chat (and cupcakes!)
This was so much fun! I hope you are all inspired to sign up for Levo League, visit She's the First, and most of all -- send an email (right now!) to your mentor to say "thank you for believing in me." Tweet me at @tammytibbetts if you have any follow-up Qs and we can connect. Thank you for coming!
This was great - I'm sorry we couldn't get to all of your incredible questions!
Thanks everyone for tuning in! The transcript of this chat will live on live.fastcompany.com!
Hey Tiffany, we try to host a chat or so a week. Thanks for tuning in. Hopefully soon!