Hey everyone! I finally did it! I traveled for work! I feel like such an adult and really fortunate to have been given such an opportunity. Usually when people travel in my area of work it’s to go work at an event, but I actually traveled to an orientation for a mentoring program. This is the first mentoring program my employer has offered. I had just been thinking of trying to find an “official” mentor when this program popped up in my inbox.
I participated in a mentor program in college, where students were paired with professionals to guide them in their college life and beyond. I’m still friends with my mentor from school on Facebook and I really feel that I got a ton out of that relationship. I felt ready to try the same thing in my after college life.
I applied to the program, which consisted of each person answering a few questions on why they wanted to participate, some goals they had for the program, and asking who they might want to be paired with. I stated I wanted to learn more about the opportunities at the company, I wanted to have some guidance in my professional goals and career path, and I asked to be paired with someone in management.
Now, I was nervous to request someone in management. My position is, well, not very high up there. In fact, I’m quite low on the totem pole at work, which does get to me from time to time. My position doesn’t require a degree and there are several people that are my age that are in higher positions. Still, I figured it couldn’t hurt and I asked.
Recently I’d also been considering my previous career goals, I accidentally ended up in the event planning industry, I hadn’t planned to be there, so I’m not totally dedicated to staying in the industry but at the same time, I absolutely love the people I work with and feel a lot of excitement for where my department is headed. It’s a great company where our motto starts as “first, take good care of each other” and that has really spoken to me and has resonated strongly with me since day one.
I also developed a few goals before heading out to the orientation. As you might remember I have been thinking of going back to school, so I wanted to get an opinion on that. I also want to make a long term career path and set goals in my career. I don’t want to be a “GPC” (the abbreviation of my current title) forever but I don’t see myself in any particular role just yet. Nothing speaks to me in the way that “first, take good care of each other” does. I want to try and find that and if I can’t then I want to commit to moving on.
I heard back fairly quickly that I was accepted into the first mentoring program. That’s also when I realized there would be travel involved in this. We were to travel to Ohio to one of the other offices in the company for an in-person orientation. I booked my flight, the company set up our hotel rooms, and I got ready to head out on my first work trip!
Before we left, we got to learn who our mentors were. Remember that I requested someone in management? Well, it paid off! I was more than a little surprised but I was very happy to see that my request was taken into consideration and granted. That definitely stepped up the pressure I felt to work hard and put effort into the program.
I left for the airport early Tuesday morning, and met up with a ton of work friends from my office at the airport. I had picked a window seat and, funnily enough, one of my buddies picked the aisle seat, and no one sat in the middle! It was pretty great.
I wrote a blog post on the plane (my Fall Travel Make Up tutorial that you can read here) and worried that I’d forgotten something. I’d like to point out that no, I did not forget anything, but slippers would have been a really good idea.
We headed out of the airport, picked up a rental car (Jeep Compass), and arrived at the hotel check in and get ready to go to the office. Unfortunately I didn’t get the chance to take pictures of my room before I messed it up quickly getting ready to leave. We had fifteen minutes so it was quite a whirlwind!
We arrived to the office where we had a quick lunch (catered Chipotle!), met our mentors face to face, and then got to work in understanding the program. We were there all afternoon and got some breaks and then ended for the evening for the “Pour at Four”, aka drinking on the patio, which is something that I want my office to start IMMEDIATELY. It was really nice meeting so many people that I never get to interact with and with others who weren’t in the program but actually work from the Ohio office.
We left after some time and went back to the hotel to get ready for dinner, aka take a selfie for my blog post. At dinner we got to sit with our mentors. Since mine is in Sales I was in a table full of sales folks which were really charismatic and awesome. I’m pretty used to being the youngest in the group, so I was at ease with them, all of whom are very accomplished people. After dinner nearly everyone went to their rooms to relax, although I heard the next day that most of the Chicagoland people had stayed at the bar to watch the Cubs game (they won). I went back to my room and watched “Dance Moms” for a bit before going to bed.
The next morning I got up early to get ready and then had breakfast with a few people from the Maryland office. After breakfast we all checked out and then headed back to the office. It was on the second day that I really could appreciate how much work and thought went into the program. The content was great and would all be made accessible to us. In fact, one of the program organizers revealed that no one on the planning team had ever set up a mentoring program and they had all done a lot of research online and through people they knew to shape the program.
Their dedication showed, it was amazing to experience. The attention to the pairings was also obvious. Many people immediately noticed that personalities from mentor and mentee were similar and that many people were paired with people experienced in the areas that they had hoped for. Any reservations anyone going into the program had disappeared long before the end of the orientation.
Unfortunately my mentor had to leave to catch a flight when his was suddenly cancelled. He only missed the last session so it wasn’t so bad and we had lunch at the office (Panera!) before heading to the airport to go back home. I stopped at Starbucks before the flight and then read a book the entire flight back. Chicago was a lot colder than Cleveland but it was good to be home!
I’m really looking forward to the rest of the program. In the next six months I’ll be meeting with my mentor and working towards learning more about the company, hopefully our parent company as well, and creating career goals. My mentor is very experienced (25 years with the company), very smart, and very funny, so I couldn’t be more excited to work with him.
I don’t know how much I’ll blog about the program yet. I’m thinking I might do a simple wrap up once the program is done or might do a few check ins as well. Let me know if you’ve participated in a mentor program or if you would like to if there was one available for you. I’m curious to know!
Thanks for reading!