When I first moved to Toronto (from Halifax) I was completely blown away with all the STUFF out there (i.e., information sessions, skills workshops, lecture series, freebies, classes, networking opportunities, summits, new friends, old friends...)! The landscape was both exhilarating and exhausting, so much so that I actually earned myself a serious stress-related eruption of eczema. It kind of reminded me of being back in university when everything was SO exciting... and there was so much to do.
Luckily for me, I ended up finding my way by learning how to gauge the opportunities that were most directly aligned with my immediate and long-term needs and desires. Yes, learning Nuit Blanche is a huge exciting event in the city and so are all the amazing lectures at UofT but they don’t make my cut. TEDx Toronto, Improv Classes, and Ultimate Frisbee did, for me.
How does one decide which ones do and which ones don’t? IMO, through being firmly connected with one’s path in life.
But finding a direction or path in life is not always easy. In fact, as I watch more and more “opportunities” and career development services emerge I really feel for the young people of our society. They are confused, overwhelmed, and seeking endlessly for their perfect careers. IMO, they are missing a few key elements to help them navigate this path - mentorship.
I was incredibly fortunate when I started university. I had a very clear interest and passion. Not long after that I ended up with a mentor who supported me for the next 4 years. Actually, I didn’t have just one, I had a few. And then when I went to grad school I had more, some of whom I still correspond with over 10 years later. And when I left university and went on to start my own business, I had another mentor. And thank god I did because without my mentors I can’t image where I would be. And I can’t imagine how less rewarding this path would have been. My mentors inspired me, guided me, encouraged me, got me out of my head, and got me in my head. They even pissed me off some times, which I think is a good thing. They challenged me to go deeper. And they were always there to check in with so I knew I wasn’t alone.
I have been part of mentorship programs since 1995, when I first started working as a mentor with a program at the University of Winnipeg called Fostering Women’s Success and Persistence in Science. I continued similar work throughout my entire university career mentoring and being mentored in a variety of domains. Now, I run my own mentorship programs, formally. For example, I run a life-coaching mentorship program to support the emerging careers of life coaches who take my course. And I recently started a post-secondary education program based on principles of mentorship, called UExperience.
To me, mentorship is an important and necessary component for sifting through the growing mountains of career possibilities and training opportunities. And my personal perspective is that all of this should be done in ways that are rewarding, fun, personalized, creative, and engaging. When I mentor, I mentor people and their projects that I enjoy so that I can enthusiastically support my mentees work. Every meeting I have with them is engaging and rewarding and re-invigorates my own work. It’s actually quite an amazing opportunity to collaborate, exchange, and share.
If mentorship interests you, join Uexperience, a unique learning community. We have student positions available, we host dinners, and run free lecture events all there to support mentoring personalized and experiential paths! We also seek enthusiastic mentors.