A huge reason Katie and I started this blog was because neither of us had a female mentor to turn to when we first started in this business. Mentorship wasn’t ever something I felt was important until I started to really blossom in my career. Now, six years in, I realize just how important a mentor can be.
It’s been two years since we started Sparkles & Sports, which is crazy to me because time really flies. As time goes on, I’ve found myself connecting with younger females in the business. It’s more rewarding than I thought it would ever be.
I’ve never seen myself as a mentor or someone to look up to, for that matter. I see myself as a 27-year-old that enjoys what she does, tweets too much and drinks a lot of Coors Light. Seriously, that’s me.
But for some reason, my peers in this industry keep passing my name to their interns and students and continuously giving me opportunities to help others.
Several weeks ago my mentee through CoSIDA’s mentorship program asked me if he could give my contact info to a former student. I said sure, thinking that the student wouldn’t follow up and actually reach out to me. She did, and we planned to talk once basketball season settled down for me.
A week later, I got a text from another colleague, completely unrelated to my mentee and his former student and he asked me if I knew said student. He noted that he had just conducted a phone interview with her and she reminded him so much of me that we just had to meet. I explained that I knew of her and she had already reached out to me. We finally chatted this week and I had such a rewarding conversation with her about goals and planning for a career in college athletics. We’ve actually talked every day, and yes, she is just like me.
One of our digital media student interns was texting me the other night about what she wants to do after graduation. She’s always had the idea that she would stick with digital media and video but she told me that after spending time around me and seeing how I interact with others in the business and my own student-athletes, she was inspired to learn more about what it is I do.
As women in this male-dominated industry, it is our duty to inspire and encourage others to forge their own path. Take time out of your day to sit and talk with a young student, whether they seem interested in what you do or not, and ask them questions about their own goals.
You don’t need to be a mentor just when it comes to someone’s career. There are personal mentors, too. That’s what I try to do for my student-athletes, especially ones on my women’s teams. Letting them know that they could come to you for anything is important. Sometimes they are far from home, or are having a hard adjustment to college and knowing that you are always an open ear to them - who isn’t on the coaching staff - can reassure them.
I encourage everyone to step outside of their comfort zone and be open to mentoring someone. You never know how much impact you can have on someone’s life.