The value of mentors

Sunday, July 23, 2017

News Miner Community Perspective

About six years ago, I sat down with my mentor and excitedly told him about some accolade I had recently received. He cheered and clapped overenthusiastically before he turned serious and said, “You need to get sober.” But he wasn’t talking about sobriety from drugs or alcohol. He pointed out that I was an approval addict and my desire to please others was costing me more than I realized.

Even though it was uncomfortable to be on the receiving end of this criticism, deep down, I knew he was right. He recommended a few books I might find helpful and suggested that I work with a counselor to overcome my reliance on other people’s opinions of me.

At the beginning of another mentoring session, I found myself complaining about frustrations at work. My mentor listened patiently for a few minutes before telling me I needed to stop being so ungrateful.

I’d never had anyone be that candid with me, and to be honest, I didn’t really know how to respond. He explained that my attitude reflected a sense of entitlement and revealed a lack of awareness of and appreciation for my privileges. He said this is a common attitude among young people he knows, and he wanted me to be aware of and reject it.

We discussed my choices: quit the job that was frustrating me or continue my work and allow the situation to contribute to my personal growth. During the next few weeks, I took my mentor’s advice and reminded myself regularly how thankful I was that I had a job and made an extra effort to be positive, encouraging and helpful around the office. I found that gratitude and appreciation worked wonders against a complaining, critical spirit of bitterness. Once again, my mentor’s feedback had challenged me to become a better version of myself.

Mentoring serves to connect young professionals with individuals, both within their industry and beyond, who can help guide them on successful career paths. Experienced professionals can help young professionals navigate their daily responsibilities and bestow years of knowledge and experience in other aspects of their personal development.

Fairbanks Economic Development Corporation is launching a Young Professionals Mentoring Program to allow more-seasoned professionals to give back to younger professionals in our community. The Young Professionals Mentoring Program will be coordinated by the Young Professionals Council.

The nine-month mentoring initiative is designed to cultivate leadership skills within young professionals to propel growth in their careers, finances and personal lives. This program aligns well with YPC’s mission of empowering young leaders in the Interior through community involvement, professional development and networking.

YPC is a diverse group of young professionals living in the Fairbanks community that meet regularly to network and engage in local, state and federal issues. There is no age limit to participate; even the young at heart are welcome!

Mentors should be mid- to senior-level professionals and retirees with leadership experience, demonstrable professional accomplishments and at least two hours of available time each month between October 1, 2017, and June 30, 2018. There will be no charge for mentors to participate.

Mentees will be entry- to mid-level professionals and graduate students with an interest in community involvement and a commitment to personal growth. To participate in the program, Young Professionals Council members will invest $50; non-members will invest $100.

FEDC is beginning to enroll both mentees and mentors with plans to make matches by mid-September. Learn more or sign up at www.fairbanksypc.com/mentoring.html.

Please contact Becca Brado at fairbanksypc@gmail.com or 452-2185, with any questions or to volunteer on the Young Professionals Mentoring Program committee.

Becca Brado is a project manager at the Fairbanks Economic Development Corp. and director of the Young Professionals Council.