My Mentorship Story

In the feedback I’ve received so far from the program, a chunk of it has been around not knowing exactly what to do or say with your mentor/mentee – and I get it. This is a random person you’re being connected with to who you know literally nothing about. However, I think from every connection we make with another human, there is something to be gleaned. This past summer I had a really wonderful experience with my mentee, and I realized that perhaps future mentors and mentees could get be inspired to take action in a different way. Shout out to Shaoli.

Connecting online - The intros

The first thing we did was connect through email: sharing our websites and what we were up to in that moment. She let me know she was looking for internships and wanted help knowing what strengths to highlight in her personal brand. This let me know what to keep in mind for our future conversations and helped me start to formulate a plan of what we could work on.

Meeting IRL - Kicking ass

We ended up meeting at our Women Who Create kick-off event and we had a long conversation about her college life and her background, hopes, dreams, goals, and bonded for a long while talking (read: ranting) about what we’ve been through as two ambiguous looking brown people.

Shortly after, we scheduled a coffee chat and got down to business. I asked her to come armed with all the things she wanted to highlight about herself, and we had a productive time brainstorming her personal brand.

We wanted to plan a second gathering but were unsure what that would look like. Then I remembered that she had been interested in what life was like inside an ad agency. I had the idea to bring her into my agency and have her meet with people in different departments. I set up 15-minute informational sessions with five different people, and sent Shaoli short bios for all of them, asking her to create questions that would help guide the conversation. She shared after that she really enjoyed meeting everyone and even discovered a role she hadn’t considered before. And I felt super pumped that I could connect her with those people, plus I love organizing things, so it was a win-win.

Having fun - Expressing gratitude

The last thing we did was think of something fun to do. I had mentioned that I love going on food adventures and she asked me if I ever had Russian food before. I hadn’t, so we made plans to go on a trip to Brighton Beach and explore the area after. Before we met up I gave her some homework questions to ponder for our meet up. I had been deep in a self-help book binge (and still am) and asked her to think about the following questions:

1. Please share five things you learned this summer. Can be professional/personal/whatever

2. Please share five goals you have for your Fall semester.

3. Please share five goals you have for yourself by next summer.

4. If you haven't already - follow up with an acknowledgment/thank you email to any new or interesting people you've met this summer.

5. Please share five things you're grateful for!

I think looking back on your accomplishments and assessing where you are and where you want to go is extremely important for self-love and success.

After we ate, we exchanged our homework prompts, we walked around the area buying candy, pita bread, and posting stories on IG. She had also painted me a beautiful picture which I currently have hanging in my room.

Your adventure awaits.

It’s important to note that this experience could help shape what your mentee pursues in the future. Shaoli mentioned that the opportunity to connect with women of color in advertising was truly unique and crucial for her choice of field. When both people put something in, you never know what magic will come out of it. We created the relationship and we were intentional about it. It’s all up to you. What do you want to get out of mentorship?


Shaunah Zimmerman