By Lindsay Marcaccio and Jane Chamberlin
We were asked to write about our experience in the IABC mentorship program. First, the basics: we get together every month, often meeting for coffee and chatting about life at work. We’ve also gone to a dance performance together, and now we’re writing together. We’re hoping to do a double date with another mentor team.
Lindsay: Just to introduce myself to our readers – I’m a communications coordinator, recently hired at the University of Calgary. So I’m new to the industry (but not to the working world).
Jane: I’ve been working as a communicator and freelance writer for more than 20 years and recently completed a PhD in English. I also teach writing courses at SAIT and UCalgary.
Lindsay: (*winking*) Has the mentorship experience been a good one for you so far? And don’t hold back!
Jane: Haha, I would say, yes, for sure. I love feeling like I’m helping you launch your career. But it’s also gotten me thinking about so many issues around communicating – from ethical dilemmas to power dynamics. It’s also helped me stay connected to the medical school (I was their writer in residence a couple years ago).
Jane: Okay, back atcha. What has the experience been like for you? Don’t hold back.
Lindsay: We-e-ll… it has been a very beneficial experience thus far. As the sole communications coordinator in my office, I’m appreciative to have a more senior communicator give advice and help me strategically and critically with what I’m doing. And to offer encouragement when I have moments of self doubt. Plus, my mentor has great taste in cafés!
Lindsay: Have you ever felt I’ve asked too much of you as a mentor?
Jane: No. I don’t feel like the time commitment is out of line with my expectations. Plus, we sometimes do things that are just fun (like the Decidedly Jazz show!). The more time we spend together, the less it seems like an obligation. Now I just want to sit down and find out your latest news!
Jane: Not everyone wants to ask for advice. Why do you think you’re open to receiving support as a mentee?
Lindsay: It probably has to do with my parents, who instilled in me that it’s okay to ask others for help, and that it doesn’t make you weaker. You can benefit from it if you open yourself up to the opportunity and the experience. I also saw it as a networking opportunity in a city where I still don’t know that many communications professionals.
Lindsay: What was your biggest fear about participating in this program?
Jane: Probably that I would let you down. That I wouldn’t have all the right answers. It’s probably the “imposter syndrome,” which seems to be particularly common in women. I sometimes assume someone else is better equipped to do what I’m doing. But I try to ignore that feeling and focus on what I have to offer.
Jane: What would you say to someone who’s thinking of participating in the program?
Lindsay: I don’t think there could be a bad experience in this program. Like most things in life, you get out of it what you put into it. If you allow yourself to be open to receiving advice, constructive criticism and support, I think you can only grow. But you do have to make the time for the relationship to develop.
IABC/Calgary’s Mentorship Program is honoured to have recently received an Award of Excellence for Mentorship at the 2020 IABC Chapter Management Awards at the Leadership Institute in Austin! To get involved in the next cohort of IABC Calgary’s Mentorship Program, the call for applications will open in Fall 2020, or for more information, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.