When we talked last month, Samantha Dale was five months into her new job as Assistant Director of Development for Alumni Giving at Lakeside School and six weeks into staying at home. Perhaps not the smoothest way to start a new position, but like all of us, she was doing her best to stay connected with work and professional peers.
One of those peers is her Advancement Northwest mentor, Christine Howeiler, Director for Health System Philanthropy at UW Medicine. Christine started mentoring in 2017 after being recruited by longtime Advancement Northwest member and Mentoring Program Coordinator Carol Borgmann. After her first mentor-protégé relationship came to a close, Christine was open to a new protégé.
Samantha was working at the Lake Washington Institute of Technology when she applied to the Mentoring Program looking for professional development. When Carol learned of her background, she encouraged her to apply for an open position at her own workplace, Lakeside School. Samantha wasn’t looking for a new job, but also felt that she wasn’t getting as much frontline fundraising experience she wanted.
Midway through the job application process, she met with Christine for the first time. When hearing of her job search, Christine advised Samantha to tell her supervisor that she was interviewing. Though it felt awkward, she did.
“It saved our relationship,” Samantha said. “My supervisor didn’t feel blindsided.”
Samantha’s new supervisor at Lakeside School is Carol Borgmann (as you may have now realized, all mentor roads lead back to Carol).
For new mentoring pairs who would like some conversational and programmatic guidelines, Advancement Northwest offers a 12-month guide to connecting throughout the year. Christine shared the guide with Samantha when they started meeting, but they flex their discussions based on what Samantha needs. Samantha creates an agenda based on her issues and concerns and leads their meetings.
“Samantha came in with a ton of questions and was ready for feedback,” says Christine. “She pushes me to be thoughtful about what I know. It’s a nice opportunity to think strategically together and problem solve her challenges.”
UW Medicine encourages their staff to both be mentors and find mentors, internally and externally. “My relationship with my mentor has taught me how to be a better mentor to Samantha,” she says.
Mentoring puts you in a position to help, to teach, and to be held accountable. “It’s a great opportunity to be strategic together,” Christine says. “We need to talk through the best solution for the issue at hand.”
Christine and Samantha meet once a month on Friday mornings for coffee. Now, they meet via video chat and bring their own coffee. With Covid-19, they have even more to talk through together.
“The new reality is so different,” comments Christine. “We have to navigate when to approach donors and how to fundraise in our new reality. Nothing is firm; everything is variable. Flexibility is critical right now.”
“This whole situation flipped a lot on its head,” Samantha says. “It’s completely different month to month. We are scrapping our plans and re-planning. We have to embrace what we have for now.”
Both Christine and Samantha feel joining the Mentoring Program has been a benefit to their careers. They are very clear with one another about their expectations and are enjoying the shift they are making from mentor-protégé to colleagues.
The coronavirus may have cancelled most events, but the Mentoring Program is alive and well. Consider joining to offer your expertise as a mentor or open yourself to a new learning experience as a protégé. We need one another’s personal and professional support during this time.
“I applied because I wanted professional development,” says Samantha. “But I got a mentor and a new job!”