interVivos Mentorship Feature: Nafisa and Stephen

Stephen and Nafisa met at the interVivos Spring 2018 Mentorship Program Launch in May 2019. Nafisa is a professional fundraiser at the Stollery Children’s Hospital and a mentor to Stephen, who is an Urban Planning student at the University of Alberta. They both thought that the interVivos mentorship program would be a good opportunity to build new connections and relationships outside of their own network. Nafisa believes that interVivos stood out amongst other mentorship programs because of the eclectic mix of individuals from all sectors and professions.


Stephen hoped to, “learn from someone outside of [his] area of study who transitioned from post-secondary to the workforce. [He] was also eager to gain insight on how to get integrated into Edmonton’s community-building scene.” Nafisa hopes to, “provide Stephen with different perspectives about his life and career. Stephen is a very smart, high achieving individual… so we teach each other about how to accomplish our goals.” They meet every couple of months and have an unstructured conversation about their goals and challenges.


Nafisa highly encourages experienced professionals to consider mentoring a young professional in Edmonton. Mentoring Stephen has reminded her of herself at his age and has helped her further her own professional development. “It’s a great benefit to mentor a young business person because it has reminded me about some of the goals I wish to achieve and how I am going to achieve them. I think the further you get in your career, it gets harder to make big changes. Mentoring someone to go for it or to pursue their goals has put my goals back into perspective to achieve.”


After the #metoo and #timesup movements gained media attention, there has been some hesitation in entering a mentorship relationship with someone of a different gender. As someone who is in a successful mentorship relationship with a female mentor, Stephen would like to encourage protégés, “to be a little more introspective about how they’re feeling… being the same gender may mean that you’re able to directly connect experiences regarding the intersection of your gender and your professional development. This is important still and people should be encouraged to share these stories, but there are lots of different ways to connect with a mentor. If anything, being mentored by someone who is a different gender allows for a broader understanding of how people relate to one another in the real world and how you, individually, can best approach your life taking more perspectives into account.”


Nafisa encourages other mentors not to stray away from mentoring someone of another gender: “Try it! You will learn something new and gain a different perspective. It will help build you up.” If you’re considering becoming a mentor or a protégé, Nafisa thinks that interVivos has done a great job of attracting a diverse audience and would like to see more community leaders across all sectors as mentors. She encourages others to take on a leadership position and take on a protégé. “Being a mentor has allowed me to meet many diverse and wonderful community contributors and have new and engaging conversations about our careers and community.”



Thank you to Christy Seville, for writing this blog. Christy is a former interVivos intern and is the Communications Coordinator at the MS Society of Canada, AB & NWT Division.

What Happens When Women Mentor Men

This article was originally written by Julia Carpenter and can be found here:

We’re used to seeing men as mentors. We’re used to seeing them mentor other men, and we’re also getting used to seeing them mentor junior women. As more women enter positions of leadership, we’re also seeing a growing number of senior women mentoring other women.But there’s a mentor-mentee relationship we’re not as familiar with: senior women mentoring junior men.

Seeing women as the mentors

Part of the reason we don’t see these relationships as much is because female leaders are still relatively rare. A recent study from McKinsey & Co. and shows that women aren’t promoted to management as quickly as their male colleagues are. As a result, there are fewer opportunities for women to mentor junior employees of any gender.
But research also shows that because men and women are socialized differently — men to be more aggressive and assertive, women to be more submissive and nurturing — they approach mentor-mentee relationships from entirely different perspectives.
Women are also more likely to care about chemistry in these relationships, Athanasopoulou says. Men will mentor a junior employee with less thought about rapport or the bond. Meanwhile, women will spend more time trying to establish that trust on the front end of the relationship.
“When women speak about mentoring another person, they tend to look at mentoring as a two-way process,” she says. Men, she says, are more likely to see it as a transaction than a relationship.

Seeing men as the mentees

The messages we get about gender don’t just shape how we mentor, Schwiebert says. They also change how we receive mentorship.
While women have been socialized to nurture and “mother” in the workplace, men have been socialized to value promotions and other symbols of success.
“There’s this expectation you should want to climb the ladder as far as you can get,”
Schwiebert says. “It’s a vulnerable place for [men] to talk about things like ‘Maybe I don’t want to make a lot of money. Maybe I want to stay here.'”
Schwiebert points to one example from her research, where a male school counselor was offered a promotion to an administrative position, one that would put him on track to one day being a principal or superintendent. He loved his current job, but he know he should want the step up — it meant more prestige and more power. But when he asked female mentors for their input, they helped him see the experience from another side.
“They said, ‘You’re so great with the students. You love them so much. If you do become a principal and agree to it, is that what you want? Do you want to go on and be administrator and make changes at the administrative level, or is your real passion working with the kids?'” Schwiebert remembers. “He ended up turning down that position, because his decision was he really wanted to focus on the thing he loved.”
Walking a mentee through that kind of decision making, she says, and helping him or her find the choice that’s best for them — that is exactly what good mentorship is all about.

What to Talk About With Your Mentors

This blog was originally written by Kristine Henne and can be found at

Recently, we discussed the value in asking questions to keep a conversation going. What happens when you don’t know where to start?

One common answer I’ve heard when I ask mentees if they’ve met with their mentors is, “I would, but I don’t know what to talk about.” Well, that surely can make keeping a conversation going quite a challenge.

When pressed… mentees will disclose a variety of topics they’d like to learn about, skills they’d like to develop or areas in which they’d like to improve. You can almost hear the “click” when they realize they can use these as discussion topics with their mentor. Someone just has to ask that question, “What do you want?” That someone can be a mentor, a peer or preferably, oneself.

Some tips that the article suggests are:

  1. Think about where you’d like to go and what can help get you there.
  2. Do a self-check to see what your current comfort level is with each topic.
  3. Write questions to ask your mentor about each topic and script your next meeting.
  4. Bring it all together by planning your mentoring meeting.

For the full article click the link above.

Building a Professional or Personal Mentoring Program for Millennials

Mentoring is an important aspect of entering the workforce as a millennial, although it is often neglected, even by business owners themselves. While many millennials frequently do well without extra assistance, they can do so through extra effort and work on their part. Many from this generation, however, either lack the opportunity or the will to perform better. As a result, they often require an extra push, or mentoring once they’ve graduated from school.

Are millennials really any different than past generations? It’s true to say that some of the behaviours and attributes of millennials can be explained by their age and limited or lack of experience. However, one of the defining characteristics of the millennial generation is their affinity with the digital world, and their expectations about how technology is used in the workplace. Plus, they need a workplace culture that is robust, flexible, innovative, and a management style and approach that is not restrained by “how things used to be done.” Millennials value a work/life balance, they expect regular detailed feedback and encouragement, and need to feel that their work is worthwhile and that their efforts are being recognized.

Implementing mentoring programs after school-life

Although recognized as an important part of certain academic programs and processes, mentoring remains one of the least understood practices in many corporate institutions. If not implemented properly, a mentoring program can become under-utilized, mismanaged, or even turn out to be a costly yet ineffective endeavor for those involved. To have a positive, successful impact in the design, and implementation of mentoring programs within the corporate or private structure, we need to think and maneuver differently when mentoring millennials. There are key considerations that must be kept in mind:

Proper planning

The goal of mentoring is to improve performance in both personal and professional development, and to ensure that protégés are well-prepared for interaction with their social and professional environments. It is important that an organization, including the mentor and protégé understands what they wish to attain through the mentoring programs by ensuring that qualitative and quantitative standards are in place.

Goals and objectives of the mentoring program, and the mentoring relationship must also be specific, well-structured, and facilitated to allow those implementing the program to determine whether the procedures are being followed, and outcomes achieved. This is important if compliance is an issue in a workplace mentorship program.

Building the core group or staff

A mentoring program within a millennial’s personal or professional life will be more effective when a central core of experienced and dedicated people are on hand to design, implement, and assess it. This will help ensure a well-organized program that is easy to monitor and run.

Recruitment of mentors

The type and quality of mentors to be chosen for the program is indicative of its success. Mentors may be selected through volunteer programs, where other employees and even members of public life can sign up for the task. Mentors could also be selected through active recruitment where they are sought out from the community at-large and asked to join.

A set of qualifications may be set in order for mentors to meet quality standards and to help streamline the application process.

Screening for mentors

The next step in creating any mentoring program is to screen the mentors for eligibility. After reviewing the applications, the core group or staff can begin interviewing the mentor applicants to determine their fit for the program. This is especially important when there are certain activities that may require extra tasks for the mentors or the protégés.

Training for mentors

An important part of a mentoring program is mentor training. Just because a person is qualified does not make them a perfect candidate for mentorship. Mentors must be able to understand the goals and objectives of the program, and be informed about any limitations and boundaries. Certain communication skills must also be checked or improved if necessary.

Matching mentors with protégés

As one of the final steps in implementing a program for mentoring, pairing mentors with protégés can be a challenge given that multi-generations are involved. Therefore, it is important that this is considered carefully. While there are no set standards for pairing, most experts suggest it’s best to consider personality and mentoring styles in order to create the perfect match. If a certain match proves to be ineffective, corrections must be implemented immediately.

A mentoring program can be an extremely rewarding experience and a mutually beneficial relationship for both mentor and protégé. The exchange of information can assist not only the protégé, but also the mentor. We are never too old, young or too successful to learn. What are you waiting for?

To Your Success!

Janice Sarich, M.Ed.
President, It Begins With You Inc.
Former MLA Edmonton-Decore & Parliamentary Assistant to Education Minister



Melissa Scott, MA



Janice (Mentor) and Melissa (Protégé) participated in the Spring 2018 mentorship program and wrote this blog together for our website.