Meredith McCurdy (right) with her mentor Kerry Lange at a WISE Within SF/Bay Area group session.
Though many people prefer to maintain a strict separation between personal and professional lives, I believe it is undeniable that they are intertwined. For many, myself included, my profession and my work partially define me. Work-life balance has perhaps become cliché, but its meaning can be relevant to a mentoring relationship, as well.
Personal and Professional Lives Intertwine
As a mentee in the WISE Within mentor program, my relationship with my mentor was strong because we allowed it to develop both professionally and personally. I was fortunate that there was a natural trust that allowed the relationship to grow quickly and openly. I realized that without sharing more about myself personally, my mentor and I could not approach my priorities of leadership and management skills, client and co-worker relationships, and career development. My personal and professional lives intertwine to make the whole — and my mentor mentored the whole.
Our meetings were focused on a couple of primary work or career-related challenges, but also touched on aspects of my personal life and how that was affecting the professional challenges and vice versa.
On the Right Track
During a group meeting of WISE Within program participants, a career coach led us through an exercise in which we were asked to rate various aspects of our lives and identify small steps to improving each area. The exercise reconfirmed that my mentor and I were on the right track for our relationship and for my professional growth.
I’m sure that not all mentoring relationships explore personal goals and challenges. But career growth is not all about how to network, what to say or not to say, applying for jobs, learning to ask for more responsibility or developing leadership skills. I believe career growth is also about the individual and the way that a career fits into one’s life and touches, overlaps, takes over or ignores other aspects of life.
After the completion of the formal WISE Within program in 2010, I moved from San Francisco to New York City, 3,000 miles from my mentor. We maintained our relationship, and I was fortunate to continue it in person after moving back to San Francisco in 2013.
In 2016, I made the decision to take a year off to travel. I was sometimes on the opposite side of the planet from my mentor, but we still sent messages and even tried to meet up on another continent. Now I’m back in the United States, exploring my next steps, and she and I have connected again. I’m fortunate that we can pick up where we left off and can continue to talk about what the future may hold knowing that my next steps affect my whole world. I’m fortunate to have a mentor to encourage, advise and support the whole me.
About Meredith McCurdy
Following a gap-year travel adventure in 2016, Meredith McCurdy is a freelance sports and entertainment marketer, yoga instructor and global wanderer. Previously, McCurdy managed Visa’s FIFA, entertainment and culinary partnerships. Prior to that, she was a sponsorship consultant at IMG (now Endeavor) and GMR Marketing. McCurdy earned an MBA from the University of Oregon, building on her previous experience in active lifestyle marketing. She is now exploring the social responsibility and social enterprise sectors.
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