It’s been ten days since Rosetta posted this option for a blog post, but as soon as I saw it I knew I had to do it: write about a mentor or someone who has made an impact on your life or career. The only difficult thing was choosing who to write about… ultimately, I have decided to write about both women who have impacted my life and career goals in a big way :). I saved the prompt in my email and finally have time to sit down and write it. (Life was a bit of a whirlwind these past two weeks, you know, getting into grad school and everything!) Sorry for the long post – I promise it’s worth it!!
Emily was my supervisor at my first job out of college, and boy, am I happy she was. Emily truly shaped the woman I am today in regards to my working style and career goals. I am so grateful for all she’s done for me. Here is just a short list of some of the things I learned from her.
- I was born to lead. I was shocked to learn that not everyone is like me! Not everyone loves managing projects and thinking strategically about the big picture. Even in the nonprofit sector, many people are there simply to do a job. Emily encouraged me to manage projects in ways that aren’t common for an entry level worker, and that experience showed me that’s when I’m happiest – with lots of responsibility and accountability. That shaped my goal to always lead.
- Want to get things done? Try on someone else’s shoes. Emily taught me the formula to getting a project approved, and it has worked every time I’ve tried it. The crux of the formula is to think like the person you need approval from. Maybe that person was once embarrassed by forgetting a donor’s name – plan to have nametags at your event. Outlining these things is the key to getting any project approved, and Emily showed me that.
- I can only control one person: myself. I’m not going to lie – I had a tough time adjusting to the working world. Before, my whole life had revolved around making everyone happy, whether it be my family, friends, teachers, anyone but myself… so, I ventured into my first job with the same goal. I quickly learned that I was attempting the impossible. People at work would be moody or dissatisfied… and I took it personally. I learned to focus on myself and my own work and do the best I could, not constantly worry about everyone else.
Emily is a strong, driven woman herself: outside of her day job, she has started up the sustainable food focused organization Community Tap & Table, which puts on gourmet cooking classes that pair food with beer. Any surplus funds from each class are donated to a nonprofit focused on connecting the community through food. Not bad for after 5:00 each day.
Emily was the Community Service Coordinator in what is now the Center for Student Involvement (CSI) at UCSD when I was a student there (she’s now the center’s director). She was the driving force behind creating Alternative Breaks, the student organization I helped found and that has been a huge part of my life. But she did so much more than help with copies and club politics – she helped me form my own definition of leadership, which I will carry with me for the rest of my life and while I grow into my own leader. Here’s a short list of what she helped me learn.
- Leadership starts with listening. A common misconception is that the leader is the loudest person in the room. In fact, true leadership is the ability to hold your opinions and preconceived notions to yourself while you gather everyone else’s view. The core of leadership is being able to take all these opinions, combine them with your own, and make the decision that takes into account all of this. Emily taught me that a good leader is a person of supreme balance and poise.
- It’s good to get out of your comfort zone once in a while. The reason Emily and I have both done so many Alternative Break trips is because we both subscribe to this theory. It’s not easy to travel to another country where you may or may not know the language with people you met a few months ago and be completely vulnerable with your feelings. No matter how hard it is, it’s good for you. You always finish the experience with a renewed faith in yourself and the choices you make. And that’s always a good thing.
- Humility is the key to happiness. Emily taught me the importance of diversity in every sense of the word – diversity in perspectives, backgrounds, interests, experiences, and so on. It is key to not only surround myself with different viewpoints, but to listen to them with a genuine interest and consider carefully what they are saying. Everyone in this world has an opinion and every single one is valid. It’s important to remember that mine is not any better than anyone else’s.
Emily effects so many students on a daily basis; she really is helping to form the next generation of leaders, politicians, teachers, activists, and citizens. She does an amazing job as the Director of CSI, helping all other advisors to do what she did with me – it’s something I will carry with me for the rest of my life.
Sorry for the long post this time, but I just couldn’t choose between them (you can clearly see why)! I hope that you also have experienced an amazing mentor relationship… and if you haven’t, seek one out! They will teach you things about yourself that you never would have known.