Consciously Seeking Mentorship
When I was in my last year of university, I was accepted into a mentoring program out of the university’s women’s centre. It was my first formal mentoring experience and it was a very positive one at that. The executive director of the women’s centre was working with an independent coach/consultant, Fran, to develop this mentoring program, which was in its pilot year.
As the program came to a close, along with my final time at university, Fran invited me to attend a meeting of the Business and Professional Women of Calgary (BPW). At the time, she was president of the club and thought it would be a good group to be a part of especially as I was transitioning from part-time work and full time academics to full time work. I did attend an event that fall, and joined the club. My time with BPW, which I’ve spoken of elsewhere in these pages and posts, was supportive and helped me to grow professionally in many different ways.
Fran would go on to bring parts of that university mentorship program back to BPW, and we built a program there as well. And later, she and I built one with my team at work, I believe both have continued.
Fran was part of my growth throughout my experience at BPW. She was there to encourage me, to listen, to help me to problem solve and develop skills. As I had begun my first full time, professional office job, she was there to listen and provide suggestions as I learned how to navigate my career. For a time she coached me. We continued to meet through BPW and then outside of it as well. When I no longer was part of BPW, she and I continued to meet up and discuss our lives. Through it all she has still remained my champion, still cheering me on. Fran is someone who was there from the beginning of my truly professional career and could see the growth and the gains more than most others.
Fran is calm, warm, patient and listens well. She works mainly in leadership coaching and facilitation, as well as building mentorship programs. She is steady, intelligent, friendly and approachable. Fran has had a fair amount of loss and struggle these last years, and she keeps on with her work, even though she’s exhausted (and because she has to). And yet, she still makes the time to meet for a tea at our usual spot, when I am in town visiting now, we do the same. And maybe a phone call or two through the year. I know we always pick up from where we left off, and although we are more friends than professional colleagues now, she is still someone whom I can ask for advice. She lead me to BPW and shared in my growth there. For that and all her advice, for all the times we have caught up together, for her friendship, I am deeply grateful.