For as long as I can remember, I’ve both been mentoring and had mentors. But because you tend to mentor the people who are just below you, as I got increasingly senior in my career (and just plain older), the people who naturally had access to me were often from privilege, either of background or demographics. So over the last few years, I’ve made a concerted effort to spend more time with people who are earlier in their careers and who haven’t had the same set of advantages.
As part of that effort, I’ve curated Mentorshipped, a peer mentoring group specifically for women. It includes a Slack with weekly accountability goals, weekday space to work in, weekly dinners, and resources like a take-it-leave-it closet and access to photo equipment, computers, etc. It is a closed, self-governing community that concentrates on meeting people where they are and helping them get where they want to be.
Mentorshipped is based on five basic rules:
1) You are the driver, you are the engine. Nobody else can set your goals, nor motivate you to accomplish them. What we can do is act as navigators, helping you plot a course, creating opportunities, and removing obstacles.
2) We are not mind readers. We cannot help you if you do not express where you need help. It is not the community’s job to check in on you – it is your job to check in with them.
3) Nothing is off the table. There is nothing about which you cannot come to the group. There will not be off limits topics and simply having a bad day and needing someone to listen is a perfectly acceptable form of mentorship.
4) No shame and no judgment. Nobody will ever tell you that your goals are the wrong goals or that you are working toward them in the wrong way.
5) This is your mentorship, not anyone else’s. It is important to own your own life. Regurgitating the goals others have for you will simply waste time and put you in the wrong place. Be authentic to yourself and you get out what you put in.
There are currently three ways to participate:
1) Mentee/Mentor. You join the group. Participate as much or as little as you want. Some women show up to Friday dinner, put on headphones, and watch Twitch; that is simply their way of being in the world. Some post daily, others never. Membership starts with a 1-on-1 meeting with me, as I act as the filter for the group and start the process of understanding where you are and where you want to be.
2) Friday Speaker. We have weekly dinners on Fridays (with provisions for all dietary restrictions, etc.). Every other week or so, I try to bring in a guest speaker who can help members see one of the many versions of success (speaker preference is given to women of color and other intersectional women). Many of the speakers have chosen to join the group afterwards to help continuing to provide positive exemplars, although it certainly isn’t required.
3) Sponsor. No, not the check writing kind. Everyone has cultural capital and opportunities that they can use to help others advance. If you are looking to hire, have an internship position, are willing to sit down and have coffee with someone who wants to have a career like yours, etc. then this is the right category for you.
If you are interested in any of these, simply email firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll take it from there.