By Ana Galan and Elyse Green
Since we were kids, we have been surrounded by mentors, though we usually call them by some other name. They may have been teachers, trainers, managers, or, of course, family. They are our trusted advisors, the people that take the time to really understand us and the ones that help us to reach our full potential.
For women beginning their careers in cleantech and sustainability, mentoring relationships are invaluable. They provide both industry connections and a supportive environment in which to build a roadmap for a meaningful career.
That is why, since the beginning of this year, Women in CleanTech and Sustainability is offering 4-month mentorship programs. The first cohort of this program, which had 12 mentees and 12 mentors, ended in May with a final event in San Francisco. Mentors and mentees had the chance to meet over dinner with the rest of the participants and members of WCS.
“I found out about this program at WCS Talks 2016 and I decided to join as I never had an official mentor. And I strongly recommend it. This program is creating a unique space. It includes men but it is basically women supporting women,” explained one of the “graduating” mentees, Aileen. “It provides guidance to achieve your goals while helping you to see your strengths, to find a focus. It is a lot of hard work but it is really worthy,” agrees Karly, another mentee.
Katherine, who was taking part in the program from outside the Bay Area, agrees. Her mentor was in Sacramento and she lives in LA. Meetings were over the phone but still, she points out how helpful it was to have someone who has already been through the same roads she was taking. “I am right now thinking that I could become a mentor to help new generation of girls,” she adds.
Mitch has 40+ years of career experience and enjoys seeking out opportunities to share his knowledge. He sees being a mentor both as a way to keep connected with the main issues concerning the younger generation, as well as a refreshing platform for working with different kinds of people.
Mitch explained that as a mentor he likes to help mentees to develop an understanding of themselves, their skillsets, and their passions, and to see how these can be leveraged over time to create a rewarding career. His mentee, Marcela, found the mentoring partnership to be a platform for testing out new ideas, practicing pitches, and talking over difficult situations. Both agreed that the program was a positive experience. They have built a supportive professional relationship and will continue to have regular conversations after the program concludes.
Mentors involved in the WCS program found it to be immensely rewarding. It is an opportunity to learn about the way junior professionals view the world and to have a positive influence on their future. “It is really inspiring to watch first hand how your mentee is growing and succeeding while you are giving back, you are passing your knowledge,” argues Jen, one of the mentors. Lisa agrees with her: “You don’t recognize how fulfilling volunteering is until you do it.” The mentors all reported feeling energized and inspired after completing the program.
Members of WCS see the mentorship program as being of vital importance in furthering the roles of women in growing the green economy and making a positive impact on the environment. WCS will continue to run mentoring programs. Registration for the second cohort will start over the summer. If you or someone you know in the fields of Cleantech and Sustainability is interested in being a mentee or volunteering as a mentor, please check the website for updates or email the career development committee at firstname.lastname@example.org. We’d love for you to be involved.
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