“Having someone tell you that you are on the right track is a big deal”

Two-time interVivos Protégé talks about her experience in the interVivos mentorship program

By: Giselle General
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/gisellegeneral/

The interVivos mentorship program was my first experience with a formal mentorship program. Throughout university and shortly after, I kept hearing about the value of having mentors for one’s professional and personal life. I never had one until this program. 

In 2018 I was matched with my first inverVivos mentor, an older gentleman named Ken Cantor. I had such a great experience that when interVivos wanted to interview us about our experience, I immediately said yes. After the formal mentorship period concluded we continued to stay in touch. And then, I signed up again! 

This time around, my mentor was Naz Sohni Uppal. Naz is a well-respected, well-recognized, multi-award-winning radio and television correspondent and producer in Edmonton’s media landscape. She was in Avenue’s Top 40 Under 40 in 2014 and I thought that was incredible! I chose her because there is another aspect of my future that I have not had a formal mentor for, and that is my creative side. 

At the same time, I heard many times that it is valuable to have a mentor that has some similarities to you. With my first mentor, we had very little in common and that is why I liked it a lot! But this time around, what influenced my choice  was similarities that I felt we had. And I was right! 

Naz and I had our meetings between January and June 2019. From my impression, she was not that much older than me which I thought was good. I asked her a lot of questions about her career journey, tips about some of the things I’m pursuing, some harsh realities that I suspected that women, immigrants, and people of colour are likely to experience, and her thoughts about my ambitious goals in the near future. We explored unique and small cafés throughout the city for our meeting locations. For someone like me who does not eat out at restaurants often, this was another opportunity to explore corners of the city I would not have discovered otherwise. 

During our mentorship meetings, I realized how having someone tell you that you are on the right track is a big deal. While unpleasant to hear at the time, having someone remind you of the harsh realities you might have to face, particularly as a woman of colour, was also reassuring to me. The “homework” that she asked me to do was meaningful. It felt like I was talking to a cool cousin or aunt. I felt the same about my other mentor who was like a wise older uncle.

Pursuing opportunities to learn from others is worthwhile, and it is something that anyone, no matter what age, or status in their professional life, should find time for. Given my personal style, I prefer being part of a more structured program and arrangement, though I have heard of many informal relationships forming as well. 

The interVivos mentorship program is also a great example of the power of social media when used positively and productively.  I discovered interVivos through social media. By actively engaging in their announcements, I found a program that ended up fitting my goals at the time. 

Click here to read mentor Naz’s story. 

Next up for interVivos is our Summer 2020 Mentorship Program launch that will take place virtually on July 14, 2020. Stay tuned for more information about our Fall 2020 Mentorship Program that will launch this November. Join our mailing list so you don’t miss the chance to register as a protégé. If you are interested in being a mentor like Naz, please email mentorship@intervivos.ca