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  • Writer's pictureShelly Ray, VP - Client Relationships


I am a very busy person. Incredibly busy. I’m a full-time working mom with two active boys, a full social calendar, and a desire to help my community. My schedule fills up pretty quickly, so why would I take the time to mentor a graduate school marketing research student every other year? One could say it’s because I’m a bit self-serving – the opportunity to mentor benefits me just as much as it does my mentee.

1. Build Positive Relationships – In my experience, the number one payback from mentoring is the relationships one will build along the way. Everyone is different. Sometimes, I end up with a mentee that I am silently rooting for who is thankful for my help. In some rare, exceptional cases I end up with a lifelong friend and ally. There is something unique about the mentoring relationship. Perhaps it’s the empathy you feel when you take yourself back in time and put yourself in your mentee’s shoes. It could be the vulnerability of the mentee to ask the questions that they would not feel comfortable asking anyone else. It creates a trust that serves both parties well into the future.

2. Exposure to New Perspectives – As I listen to my mentees’ questions, concerns and viewpoints, I often pick up on new tools they have used and new research methods being taught to them. I am kept up to date on new perspectives and informed on what they are hearing from visiting industry experts, as well as new products from companies that are vying for their talents. As a result, I am better at my job. I am more involved and can better see the industry’s big picture. My work world expands through my mentees.

3. Take note of the Wisdom you have gained – We all need a boost sometimes. Give yourself credit for how far you have come! Our experience has been hard-won, and there are not many opportunities to put our growth into perspective. Have a conversation with someone just starting their career and listen carefully. You will remember when you had a similar thought or concern, and note the experiences that changed your view over time. It is essential to recognize your expertise and wisdom and share it with others.

4. Be Invigorated – The flip side of all that experience we have? We can get a bit cynical and habitual about the industry and our careers. Remember when you were starting your career and were so excited about what was in store for you? No? Your mentee does! Talking to them for even a few minutes will help you remember. The enthusiasm is contagious!

5. Honor those who have mentored you along the way – I didn’t get where I am without help. From professors, co-workers, bosses, and friends, I have been fortunate that others were cheering me on and offering honest advice. I am grateful for those that have invested in my success, and I know they would appreciate me reaching out to help others. So, I mentor and feel like I’m honoring my mentors in the process.

I have the privilege of mentoring again this year. I will strive to help my mentee and better prepare them for their first job in the industry. I know that I will make a friend, learn something new, reflect on my growth, and honor my mentors during the process. I can’t wait!


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