After four months of partaking in SHINE, our peer-to-peer mentoring program, meeting periodically for career advice and networking guidance, mentor-mentee pair Beth Singer and Drew Litowitz impart tips that they believe are useful for a healthy mentoring relationship.
- To get the most out of any relationship, set aside time for each other, despite busy schedules. Closeness comes from making the other person a priority. Both of us felt busy and overbooked during these months, and thus did not make as many commitments to one another as we envisioned. Towards the end, we got to a deeper level, and both of us remarked we wish this breakthrough came sooner. Bottom line: put in the time!
- Don’t be shy about asking questions. Drew learned to approach Beth with a curiosity and interest in her and her experiences, resulting in more valuable life and design lessons from his mentor. Beth is working on gleaning more from Drew’s experience with new technology and social media. Each a teacher, each a student. One can learn in any situation, if one is open to it. In Beth’s own words, “You never know which way the door can swing.”
- Being assertive and enthusiastic goes a long way in attaining your goals. Beth encouraged Drew to speak up about certain things that were important to him in the workplace, and elsewhere in life, while acknowledging that sometimes it takes courage. People often feel bothersome when calling, emailing, or asking for something more than once. But this is not really the case. People are focused on their own priorities and sometimes it takes more than a whisper to get another person’s attention. Best practice: You are not being obnoxious by asking for what you want. Be yourself when you ask, and people will understand it’s important to you.
- When things seem overwhelming, it’s great to have a special relationship with someone who can be a sounding board. Beth and Drew both saw their fair share of changes and true challenges during these four months, and it was interesting and beneficial to reflect on both those difficulties and positive changes from two widely different perspectives. They came together to help support one another in our decisions, using our experiences and current places in life to guide one another. Upshot: Helping someone else in a profound way that makes a difference is one of life’s greatest pleasures. Give someone an opportunity to do that for you.
- Every situation is a learning opportunity. Whether something works out or doesn’t, the experience is valuable in and of itself. Just seeing how this program unfolded was constructive, in that each of them learned new things about how to be a part of a structured, interpersonal relationship, and how to make that relationship thrive, and they valued that enormously.Conclusion: Perfection is not always the goal; some of the most beneficial life lessons result from trial and error.
Beth Singer is an AIGA DC Fellow and owner of Beth Singer Design, Inc.
Drew Litowitz is DC-based graphic designer and freelance music journalist.