Mentorship Comes From Unexpected Places, Are You Open To It?

By: Emily Pope, HAEd Boston Chapter Co-Leader

Like most recent graduates, I had many questions about how to find a mentor and what a mentoring relationship should look like.  Should my mentor be someone in my field that I want to emulate? How do I get exposure to that ideal mentor as an entry level employee? I had unrealistic assumptions that a mentor figure would check in regularly about my career challenges and goals, with near therapist-level active listening skills. The more I thought and read about mentorship, none of this seemed right, but I wasn’t sure what was.

Mentorship went from the back of my mind to the forefront as I began planning the HAEd Boston Chapter’s second annual commencement event. I worked with Crystal Rose, my HAEd Boston Co-Leader and Anissa Conner from the HGSE Alumni office, to envision a way to celebrate 2018 graduates and to connect them with alumni in a meaningful way. Mentorship became the theme that tied the groups together. Crystal invited Carlos Watson, the CEO of OZY Media, to share his insights on mentorship with the attendees. In this video, Carlos shares his experience with mentorship and encourages everyone to be open to mentorship from unlikely places. He describes his experience with “angels,” people in the periphery of his life who were willing to help him make connections, even when he didn’t understand why. This insight enabled me to breathe a sigh of relief. I did not need to focus on finding one ideal mentor, instead I needed to shift my mindset and remain open to help, insight, and advice from unexpected places.

After launching the event with this message, Crystal and I gathered a group of volunteer mentors. These mentors were our colleagues from the Harvard First Generation SIG and a diverse group of Boston-based alumni across fields, schools, and graduation years. After having each of our mentors introduce themselves, we set up a speed dating session and had the attendees rotate in small groups to speak with each mentor. The room quickly buzzed with conversations and laughter. During that time, I met students and recent graduates from across many Harvard schools - all passionate about having an impact on the world and connecting with others. It was an incredible place to be. The buzz of conversation lasted far beyond the closing of Gutman Library. I enjoyed connecting with others from HGSE, OZY Media, HAEd, and FirstGen SIG to provide a platform for connections to be made and for mentoring relationships to spark.