She was a seemingly quiet, introspective student. On the surface, her introversion didn’t bode well for her success in my public-speaking course at the Community College of Philadelphia. While other students were often loud and more gregarious, she said very little in class. Nevertheless, I could always tell she was engaged. From the way her eyes held mine when I explained how to effectively incorporate research into a presentation, and from the way she methodically outlined and delivered her speeches, I knew this student was paying attention.
At the close of the semester, I pulled the young woman aside and asked about her plans. What did she want to do with her life? How did she plan to execute those plans? She explained that she wanted to continue her studies, hopefully obtain her bachelor’s degree at Temple University, and possibly even pursue a master’s degree. Her ambition impressed me, and since, at the time, I was launching a small indie press, I asked her if she would like an opportunity to intern with the company. She said yes, and our relationship was born.
It would be several months, however, before our connection developed into a mentor-mentee relationship. In that time, I not only learned about her career aspirations but also discussed with her at length her romantic relationship with her longtime boyfriend and even her spiritual wrestlings. Those personal aspects of our experience together would shift the way I viewed mentoring. <Read more.>