When I first started college, I was referred to an alum from my area of study as a mentor, to guide me through the tough years of college life. And she was beyond sweet, such as by sending me fruit baskets during finals. Consequently, I was very thankful for her, especially when I needed perspective.
And with time, I learned to pick my own mentors, especially when I started my career. I usually would choose someone in middle or senior management, or someone who I looked up to. But more often than not, that person would not be in my age bracket, nor be as junior in their career as I was.
But why can we not reach out to fellow young professionals for mentorship, at our place of work?
I am a mentor. You are a mentor. We are all mentors to each other.
This all came to mind when this week, I met with a colleague of mine, where we have very little age difference.
She was sharing her struggles in the workplace, such as managing expectations of your boss, dealing with co-workers who block you, as well as work-life balance.
And it dawned on me, that although I am not necessarily “senior” to her in terms of hiearchy, I have experienced many of the same challenges. It was so refreshing to discuss similar issues and offer suggestions, which I hope were helpful to her. And even though it was her struggle, I shared in her pain because I could identify with it. And by just discussing it out loud, it eased both of our pains. It made us feel less alone in these challenges at work, as she confirmed.
However, it’s rare that young professionals lend a helping hand from a motivational perspective. Of course we often help each other with mundane tasks, or worse, we opt for jealousy and competition for some make belief promotion.
But I don’t often see young professionals forming an alliance, to discuss struggles, and offer tangible solutions to help.
I am not talking about gossiping, or shit talking about your coworkers to each other. We all do that.
Instead, why can we not be each other’s mentors as co-workers? Why can’t the girl who is a star in finance, give some pointers to the girl having a rough week in sales? Why can’t the strong performers across disciplines align?
Imagine if all the young professionals, who are top performers in a company, man or woman, created some sort of alliance, which was not forced by HR or their supervisors? Think of it as a business fraternity. Remember those in college?
Why can’t we have each other’s backs? It’s not a me versus him or her.
Why can’t we vet each other on how to best manage our directors and VPs, so that we meet their expectations? It’s a coalition of strong professionals, to better ourselves, and to also make each other look even better in the workplace.
Why is your win, not also a win for me? It danm sure should be.
Come to think of it, I legit want to start this “fraternity” at my current job. And you should too because it’s a win-win.
We need to live life OUR way, and although our approaches tend to be unconventional as young professionals, we have so much to bring to the table.
We should collaborate by mentoring each other, and together be better, braver, bolder.