Starting around when my father passed away when I was 13, I began to realize the importance of mentorship. In the years since, I’ve depended on mentors to help me grow, persevere, and develop into who I am today—I know firsthand how life-changing these individuals can be to a young person. From my mother to a retired local politician, amazing mentors have been teaching me what it means to pursue passion with action every step of the way. Without my realizing it, my mentors have been showing me what leaning in means since a young age.
What I found interesting as I entered college, however, was the prevalence of classmates who were puzzled by the concept of early mentorship. People asked me:
• “But I thought mentors were only for established professionals?”
• “What could somebody still in school have to talk to a mentor about?”
• “How do you even ‘get’ mentors at this age?”
I initially found myself saying: “I’m not sure—I think I’m really lucky to find these people.” Although it’s absolutely true that I’m fortunate to have them in my life, I soon found that the best way I could answer those questions was to lean in by providing opportunities for them to discover the power of mentorship for themselves.
That’s why when I chaired Harvard Undergraduate Women in Business’ Intercollegiate Business Convention in 2012, we centered the mission of the team and of the project on building a network of young women as early in their careers as possible. Our convention vision was deeply meaningful to me because my personal experience had led me to believe one of the fundamental components of building a community of young leaders was building the strength of mentorship opportunities in a tangible way. I believed that having a thousand college leaders from all around the world in one room was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for them to not only meet peers and engage in industry programming, but also to connect with professionals who could be wonderful mentors down the line.
Leaning in, to me, means choosing to take action in creating opportunities for discovery. To start, I plan to continue to spread the importance of mentorship for young women by providing experiences for them to discover an incredible new community—even as a collegiate.