Reflections from the HBA Greater Philadelphia chapter mentoring program

This month's inspirations blog post comes from guest blogger Karima Sharif, director, Customer Engagements Communications Media Inc. (CMI), and participant in the new mentoring program for the HBA Greater Philadelphia chapter.


When signing up for the mentorship program, I didn’t know what to expect. I also wasn’t sure if I wanted to be a mentor or a mentee so I decided to join as a mentee to immerse myself into this opportunity from the bottom up. My entry into the program has been nothing more than motivating and delightful.

Last week, our group met for the first time at the home of one of our mentors, Laura (whose farmhouse equals her personality …charming). We were welcomed into her warm abode, to chew, sip and chat at her kitchen counter about our challenges and experiences.

After about an hour or so, we’d sailed into her dining room where we were greeted by hills of lifestyle magazines and arts and crafts tools (i.e. scissors, construction paper and markers). We focused the next hour on our goals and aspirations by fashioning a “vision board”, a visual representation of one’s short- and long-term goals, whether professional or personal.

Once we were finished, each person presented their “vision” to the group. It was a very therapeutic process. As I sat there listening to the other women, I had two “a-ha” moments.

First and foremost, even though we are all different, we are very much alike. Most of our goals were the same. It really blew my mind of the commonalities that we shared as women of different ages and backgrounds.

Secondly, how was I going to embrace this experience and be a great mentee with this group of amazing women? I chose to focus on, “how to be a great mentee”:

1. Be open-minded
There’s a saying that “you are never too old to learn” and I live by this on a daily basis. This is the mindset that I applied when signing up for the mentoring program. You may have had expectations or an agenda and that is fine; however, having an open-mind and embracing the unknown so that you can immerse yourself into the experience is golden. It will also allow for you to get to your “a-ha” moments.

2. Be a listener
It shouldn’t be all about you. Just as much as you want to talk about your challenges and goals, you should be ready to listen. And not just listen to respond… but listen like a trusted and caring friend. This is an outlet for women to share their most precious ideas and stories that they may not have had a chance to do before. Being a listener not only shows support but it will allow you to find commonalities in each other’s goals and challenges which in the end will benefit all.  

3. Be authentic
Last and definitely not least, be authentic, be yourself. It can be a daunting task when meeting new people and openly voicing your points of view, but in the end, you have to do it with courage and authenticity to truly be a great mentee.

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