Combine mentoring, speed dating, and the concept of “pay it forward” and you get a cool new initiative sponsored by Mayor Bloomberg called “Mentor It Forward.” The program is part of Women’s History Month and is structured in two parts – students from Barnard College and other NYC colleges receive advice from professionals in a “speed mentoring” structure similar to speed dating; then each of these students will in turn mentor a high school student later in the year.
Yesterday I had the opportunity to meet with several women from Barnard, Hunter, City, and several other New York City colleges. They asked lots of great questions about my professional background, challenges that I’ve faced, things I enjoy most about my work, and things I’ve learned. Many of them had concerns about how to select the right major, how to decide on a career, and how to know whether they’ve made the right choice - and as we spoke I heard echoes of many of the same questions I had for myself when I was in college. I answered as sincerely and succinctly as I could, and I tried to think about the type of advice that I would give myself at that age if only I had a time machine. I created the below handout as a resource that I thought might be helpful for someone just starting out on the path of navigating her career.
The three main pieces of advice that I would give to anyone still in college or just starting on their career would be:
- Learn how to set goals from now. Goal setting is a life-long process. No matter where you are, you should always be thinking about your next step.
- Learning is a life-long journey. It doesn’t stop just because you’ve earned a degree. Make sure that you are continually learning and growing. If you feel yourself getting comfortable, then it’s time to start thinking about the next challenge.
- You don’t have to do just one thing. Each of us has so many talents and capabilities that it’s a shame to pigeonhole ourselves into just one area. The days where we spend 30+ years doing the same job are over. Now-a-days it’s very common for people to work for multiple companies, and even to transition careers once or twice. This means that a student’s major is only the first step in a journey, it’s not a life sentence.
In addition, here are a few books/resources that I highly recommend* :
- What Color Is Your Parachute (Personally, I like the Teen Edition, as it is a bit more straight-forward)
- Think and Grow Rich, by Napoleon Hill (Click the title for the full pdf version of the book)
- The Power of your Subconscious Mind, by Joseph Murphy (Click the title for the full pdf version of the book)
The last two are books that I tend to reread often because the concepts are so useful.