What Helps Young Women Thrive Professionally? Mentors

Posted by Deborah Farmer Kris on May 7, 2019 9:34:32 AM

In a recent report, the Lean In organization wrote that “mentorship is critical to the success of women across industries,” opening doors and providing vital training and support. According to one study, the majority of women in business view mentoring as “highly valuable” in advancing their careers, yet 63% report never having had a formal mentor.

Near the end of their senior year, as Montrose twelfth graders turn their sights to college and beyond, we wanted to address this opportunity and gap head-on in our first annual Senior Summit. The students traveled to the boardroom of The Bowdoin Group, an executive search firm, and engaged in mentoring conversations with women leaders who offered candid insights into the habits, experiences, and mindsets that have helped them flourish professionally.  

Students met in small groups with the firm’s leaders and heard about how these women navigated their journeys from college to professional life. They discussed how to find and keep mentoring voices in their lives and reflected on the company motto, "Do the right thing" -- a vision that serves as a compass as they make decisions.

A particularly cogent take-away was this: where you go to college matters far less than what you do while you are there.  Students were counseled to set their sights high, engage in volunteer work that speaks to their mind and heart, and follow the unexpected opportunities that present themselves.  

One senior shared that she was inspired by the discussion of the unexpected twists and turns careers can take, and the courage it requires to pursue paths that diverge from “the plan you have had in your head since high school.”  Another noted, “I valued their advice to keep an open mind in college about different activities.”

This Summit -- which took place one week before College Signing Day -- offered a timely dose of perspective. “One woman shared that she transferred colleges two times,” said one senior. “The message she gave to us was to take it a step at a time -- which was really comforting because there are so many steps to take right now!”  

A faculty member who attended shared, “When the leaders introduced themselves and noted their colleges and majors, it was amazing how varied they were. This was a great display of being agile -- heading in one direction, but being flexible to adjust to different interests and opportunities that come along.”

As seniors face the future with both excitement and inherent uncertainty, learning from women who have traveled this path before them felt anchoring: “I loved that we got to talk to women from all different walks of life, and all maintained the same message of assurance that it will all be fine,” said one student. A classmate added, “They have a team of amazing women who are truly inspiring.”

 

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