By Samantha Burke, Pass the Torch for Women Foundation

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One of our partners and past Indiana Adult Promise grantees, Samantha Burke from Pass the Torch for Women Foundation left some words of wisdom this month on why mentorship and mentoring is so important right now for all ages and stages of life.

Defining Mentorship

It took me several years into my career to fully appreciate the weight of my father’s words. “Samantha, it is critical that you surround yourself with good people.” Over time, I have worked to decipher what he meant by “good.” I would consistently run into roadblocks on my search for these “good” people because I was looking through the tiniest lens for the most polished, well put-together Webster definition of the word. I was on the search for the ones who appeared to have it all together but let’s be honest, how incredibly mundane life would be if we all had it figured out. 

I have come to the conclusion that “good” people are those who will challenge you, encourage you to be the best version of yourself, empower you to think differently, and those who will wrap you in support with the best of intentions. These people are not the ones who necessarily always tell you what you want to hear; rather, they are the ones who tell you what you need to hear. 

It was not until I joined the team at Pass the Torch for Women Foundation in 2013 that I had the epiphany that what my father was telling me all along was to surround myself with mentors – those who would pour into my cup so that, in return, I could pour into others. It is a cycle of continuous learning, retaining, and practicing that enables us to grow personally and professionally.

Finding Mentorship
A one-on-one mentoring relationship between two women

It is hard to go up to someone on the street and ask them, “Will you be my mentor?” Trust me, I have tried it and it is as awkward as one would imagine. The most authentic and organic way to build mentorship in your life is to cultivate relationships with those that you emulate and want to have within your network. I have learned that more times than not, people will say “yes” when you reach out to schedule time to learn more about their professional journey and seek out their wisdom. Showing up with a growth mindset and curiosity to learn will take you leaps and bounds down a path towards a lasting and fruitful relationship. 

An even more intentional way to not just find a mentor for yourself, but to serve as a mentor to someone else, is to join organizations within the community that align with your passions and values. For example, if you have a heart for philanthropy and mentorship, perhaps you should consider joining the Pass the Torch for Women Foundation! Yes, I may have some positive bias but trust me when I say that the experience of being a mentee/mentor in a formalized program is incredibly enriching and empowering. 

It provides structure to the mentoring relationship and a layer of community that I know we are all hungry for, especially given our current landscape. Mentorship is a two-way street and I encourage everyone to consider how they can step up to be the catalyst for change in someone else’s life. The benefits of mentoring stretch from an individual level all the way to a community level and beyond. When you lift and invest in others, especially women, you are lifting their families and their community. The transformation is monumental. 

Advocating Mentorship

So, where does this leave us as we near the end of National Mentoring Month? Well, from my perspective, it leaves us with so much opportunity to continue the narrative on the importance of stepping up to share our wisdom and help guide others along their path. It is a critical time that we come together to empower future generations and leave our legacy. Whether it be at your company, institution, at home… there is power in mentorship and I challenge you to consider how mentorship has impacted you in your career. Reach out to a mentor and thank them. Implement a mentoring program at your company (and reach out to me if you need support!). Be a light to someone else and pass your torch. 

“It is critical that you surround yourself with good people.”

So, thanks Dad for the great advice and for being one of my greatest mentors.

About Pass the Torch for Women Foundation

With their peers being in the minority within top decision-making levels, how do women create the connections that allow them to grow as leaders? How do they gain the skills and support to move up the ranks? The Pass the Torch for Women Foundation is addressing this issue in a unique and powerful way. We are creating a community of women and men committed to supporting women throughout their career lifecycles, from college students to emerging leaders to top executives. This community comes together to provide mentoring, networking and professional development to help women reach their full potential. 

To learn more about how you can volunteer as a mentor and/or support the work of the Pass the Torch for Women Foundation, please visit passthetorchforwomen.org.


Burke Headshot 2020

About the Contributor

Samantha Burke is the Vice President of Programming and Development with Pass the Torch for Women Foundation. Connect with her on LinkedIn here.

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