Laura Hutyra, CFRE, Director of Client Engagements
I began the first professional position of my career in July 2006. My very first week on the job I met Missy Gale. She impressed me as a successful professional in the DFW area and she would soon establish her own consulting firm, M. Gale & Associates.
Over the years Missy, as well as her colleague Barbara McColm, became significant mentors to me as I transitioned to different organizations, honed my skills and developed a better understanding of my own niches in the field. In 2014, I became a fundraising consultant on Missy’s team to serve a wide range of nonprofit organizations in North Texas. From the start of my career mentorship has provided me with invaluable lessons, exponential growth and unique opportunities that I wouldn’t have had otherwise.
While I believe that we can all learn from each other, regardless of the number of years of experience we have, I recommend every professional have at least one or two strong relationships with individuals more advanced in their careers. In fact, the Vice President of our company, Barbara Shelton, CFRE, has more than 30 years of fundraising experience, has held key positions in several well-respected organizations, and has been a consultant for many years. I am proud to count her as a mentor, and I’m not surprised she is being awarded the Ben Franklin Award for Outstanding Professional Fundraising Executive this week at AFP Fort Worth’s 2019 National Philanthropy Day Luncheon. Working alongside Barbara and enjoying mentor moments with her has stretched me as a consultant. Likewise, I enjoy building relationships with young professionals, who I can perhaps help navigate in their careers.
Mentorship has helped me embrace life-long learning. Frankly, we should always learn, especially from those who have come before us and from our peers. Here are my top five tips about mentorship.
- Become both a mentee AND a mentor. We can all learn from each other. Be purposeful in your efforts to build relationships with people of varying backgrounds, years of experience and levels of involvement in your field. But remember to keep things balanced and don’t just take all of the help, give back.
- Push yourself beyond your comfort zone. Use professional networks and current relationships to find someone completely different than yourself, or someone you would typically be too intimidated to approach. Significant growth takes effort and vulnerability.
- Be consistent. Set standing meeting times with your counterpart(s). The length of time, time of day and frequency (I would recommend at least quarterly) can vary but stick to it.
- Plan your time. Don’t just socialize; put thought into what you would like to discuss, including areas where you know you need guidance or have guidance to give. As often as possible, articulate this ahead of time, so you can both be prepared.
- Develop Goals and Check-In. Don’t be afraid to share your goals – professional, personal and specific to your mentor/mentee relationship. Keep those goals top of mind as you continue to meet, so that the value of your time together is apparent to both of you. It is healthy to re-evaluate and establish new or evolved goals over time.
I’m interested in hearing about a mentor or mentorship that has made an impact on your career or in your life. Send your thoughts to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Keep calm, and mentor on!