Yesterday morning, a young gentleman took me for breakfast. And while I was blessed to have a great weekend with many amazing moments, this was undoubtedly the highlight.
No, it wasn’t a date. (apologies if you were expecting juicy details. LOL)
The young gentleman is a student that I’ve been mentoring for around 2 years now. He had found me on LinkedIn, and I didn’t accept his invitation immediately, because it was a total stranger. But after thinking about it (those annoying LinkedIn reminders helped), I realised that this might be someone that my conscience needed me to connect with. Also, having just been certified by Mentoring Standard a few months before, I saw this as an opportunity to put my international accreditation to use and not just be lazy and sit on my ass. He wanted advice, and was totally shocked when I suggested we meet instead and have a proper discussion.
Since then, we’ve even worked on some projects together which extend beyond the mentoring relationship.
We had a catch-up session yesterday, and as usual…he would tell me what he’s been up to, and we’d go through the challenges, wins, etc etc. This time, the main discussion was the fact that he had landed a full-time job in the company that he had done vac work in. His load at campus was light, and he had lots of free time. Also, he had outperformed the postgrad students that had had also been hired for vac work at the same tech startup. They were so happy with his work that before he knew it, they were talking about a full-time position and salary figures in excess of anything he’d imagined before. Bear in mind that this is still a full-time undergrad student. He’s also a foreigner, from a country that it has become increasingly difficult to send money into South Africa from. This also now meant that he could cover all his living expenses and university fees. His parents no longer had to support him financially in any way, with immediate effect. On further probing, I also found that the startup he works for is owned by the partner of one of my Dreamgirls sisters on the Cape Town committee. A lot of things then clicked, because she had also told us about how well the company is doing and how they’re expanding rapidly. What a small world! (cliched as hell, I know)
He only had coffee at our meeting, but I had a full-on breakfast and a turmeric latte. (Roggie loves to eat if you haven’t figured that out by now) He insisted on paying for everything, because…well…the job and everything. I initially resisted, but eventually allowed him to, and it made me so extremely proud. Of course, it was never about the money. It’s about the symbolism, about the power of that act and what it signifies in the bigger scheme of things.
When I initially heard the idea at TechWomen that mentoring benefits the mentor even more than the mentee (I’ve been both, and currently am both), I found the concept hard to believe. But it has proven to be so, over and over again. This is true for any type of mentoring relationship, whether it be in a formal life mentoring programme like the DreamGirls Academy that we run, or a less structured, more professional relationship…one thing is certain… the value that comes from seeing someone grow and transform, from watching their journey that you helped shape, seeing their successes and knowing that you were a part of that, cannot be described in words (ok, maybe it could if you’re Shakespeare). It is an indescribable feeling of happiness, and their success often trumps your own success in terms of joy and pride.
If you ever get the opportunity to mentor someone…grab it! Your life will be better for it, I promise.