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.