About the author: Soz is a graduate of the DevelopHer mentoring scheme. Her interests lie in people and politics, and is taking her digital marketing background out to Ethiopia for the next year.
On a miserable Monday, working late in the office the inevitable, millennial questioning kicked in.
“WHAT AM I DOING WITH MY LIFE? WHY AM I HERE? WHY AM I SPENDING SO MUCH TIME IN THIS GLASS BOX?” I could go on.
Workwise everything was going ok. I’d been in a start-up creative consultancy for two years. We were growing, as were my responsibilities. I really liked the team and the work, but something didn’t feel right. I longed to do something different, to shake things up, experience a new way of living, challenge myself.
I realised I needed some help. Cue search terms ‘mentoring scheme London’. A quick browse led me to the DevelopHer mentoring programme. And the rest they say is history.
Within two sessions, I’d quit my job. Motivated to follow my genuine interests, I went through an extended interview process for a role I was told I would never get. Then I got it. Now I am off to Ethiopia for a year. A new challenge for sure.
Over the course of 6 months, the DevelopHer mentoring scheme has helped me in ways I never imagined. It’s worth saying that I’m really not one of those super organized people who think ahead when it comes to their careers. I’d never been to a DevelopHer event before, in fact, thinking about it, I’d never been to any career specific event before.
I’ve transformed into a real advocate for mentoring and self-development programmes. Listening to the advice of those who have been there, done that, got the t-shirt puts everything into perspective. Mentors are totally objective – they’re not motivated by any need to tell you what you want to hear. In fact, as I experienced, they are more likely to tell you what you don’t want to hear. There is nothing more motivating.
I now look at my career through an entirely different lens; I’m getting better at working out what I want, then getting out there to find it. I’ve learnt to never settle for less – our most recent mentoring session focused on negotiation, the next day I walked away from a job offer because it wasn’t on my terms. Two days later, I got the salary I wanted.
More than anything else, the mentoring programme has highlighted the power of sharing experiences. Every session, the mentees share a quick one-minute update around a theme. There is so much change amongst us between sessions; it’s phenomenal to recognize the speed of our growth. Between meetings our WhatsApp group is inundated with success stories – coverage in national papers one day, salary increases the next. It inspires the entire group. The energy is self-perpetuating.
And then there is the power of mentors sharing their experiences. This varied and dynamic team share how they handle a range of work things – pay, leadership, getting stuff done. Sometimes they tell us off for self-doubting, other times they just tell us we’re great. They’re total gurus and we’re all so grateful.
I’m not sure how we can repay everyone involved. Telling others that they have to apply for the next programme might help. Continuing to support each other will happen inevitably I’m sure. How about settling for rocking the industry? When it happens I can’t wait to hear everyone’s stories. No doubt it will continue to spur us and other girls on.