WISE Within Chicago's committee co-chair (2009-13) Maureen Palchack (left) with the chapter's mentees and mentors at a group session.
We get out of WISE Within what we put in, and over the last four years, I have been fortunate as a committee member to watch so many mentees, mentors and other committee members truly benefit from engaging and committing to the experience.
The Value of WISE Within
Over time, I have developed a greater understanding of the process, expectations and value of the WISE Within program. Mentees are in an advantageous position as the sponges, soaking up all of the professional and personal knowledge and advice from willing mentors. Mentors are accepted into the program sometimes unaware of just how much they have to offer and not only provide young, aspiring individuals with priceless guidance, but I've often seen mentors learn — or relearn — many lessons themselves.
Mentees that have truly taken advantage of this experience have the opportunity to gain so much. I have watched many individuals in the early stages of their careers throw themselves into the program and come out with a more extensive network, a fresh vision, more confidence for what they can achieve and, in some cases, a new friend.
At our midyear event the last few years, we have broken out into two groups: mentors and mentees. This has proven to be a great opportunity for sharing approaches that have been successful and talking through challenges. During discussions this year, a mentor expressed a desire to provide her enthusiastic mentee with a few more experiences in other areas within the sports industry. Without delay, two other mentors offered a job-shadow day in their offices.
A Network of Trust, Willingness and Support
WISE Within creates a network of trust, willingness and support, and by simply having these conversations, more opportunities arise.
Committee members — and, in our case in Chicago, WISE board members — are fortunate to attend the kickoff, midyear and wrap-up sessions and contribute to these fantastic conversations while celebrating the various connections that have been made through the program.
As a member of the committee, I have thoroughly enjoyed the process — from the application stage to the wrap-up event to everything in between. Like every mentee and mentor, as committee members, if we commit to being dedicated, present and engaged, we have the opportunity to provide a worthwhile experience for all mentees to learn, for all mentors to feel it is time well spent and for all to expand their network, knowledge and, if we are lucky, friendships along the way.
About Maureen Palchack
Maureen Palchak is the assistant director of athletics for community relations at Northwestern University. Working closely with marketing, academic services, compliance and athletic communications, Palchak serves as Northwestern's philanthropic liaison, responsible for coordinating community outreach for all 19 varsity programs. She also plays a large role in Northwestern Athletics' relationships with the Evanston, Illinois, community. A native of Marshall, Michigan, Palchak graduated from Saint Mary's College in South Bend, Indiana, where she swam four years on the Belles' varsity swim team. Palchak holds a master's degree in sports administration from Northwestern.
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