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Courtney Reilly (left) at the WISE Within Chicago kick-off session.

Goal. The word evokes the process of creating a simple statement and taking the necessary steps to bring it to life.

When the WISE Within mentor program kicked off in October 2012, I came prepared with a list of lofty goals. At the time I was accepted into the program, I felt lost, both professionally and personally. I had been at the same job for nearly three years and felt I was ready for a bigger challenge and more growth and wanted to diversify my skill set. Personally, I was struggling to find the greater purpose of why I was here and how I could positively impact the lives of others in a more meaningful way.

Sharing a Broad Set of Goals

After being paired with my mentor, I shared with her the broad set of goals I had: Professionally, I hoped to find a new career and become more comfortable with public speaking, and personally, I wanted to finally take the time to volunteer.

My mentor could not have been a better match to help me at this juncture in my life. Flourishing in her current role as manager of corporate sponsorships, she shared that there had been a time early on in her career when she found herself at the crossroads that I was confronting. She stressed the importance of narrowly defining my broad goals. I was able to take my idea of a "career in sports marketing" from just that to what I really wanted to pursue, which was, more specifically, a career in sponsorship consulting with a small focus on activation.

Additionally, she introduced me to the not-for-profit Girls in the Game as a way to blend my passion for sports, nutrition and fitness with my desire to help others. As outlined on its website, Girls in the Game "provides and promotes sports and fitness opportunities, nutrition and health education, and leadership development to enhance the overall health and well-being of girls." It was a natural fit and something I look forward to participating in rather than view as just another item on my to-do list.

Tracking Progress

Throughout our relationship, my mentor and I met biweekly to track my progress. Having someone to hold me accountable who also provided a lending ear when I needed to voice my frustrations about the never-ending job search was extremely helpful. We set up small timelines for me to accomplish each task.

With my mentor's encouragement and guidance, I was able to accomplish all of my goals during the span of the WISE Within program. I obtained a new job, and I have found a new passion for volunteering. Also, as a result of a midpoint WISE Within group session, another mentee and I now co-chair WISE Chicago's first book club, which allows me to practice my public speaking as well as connect with a great group of women. I could not be more pleased with my progress, grateful for the WISE Within program or thankful to my mentor for her help on this journey.

Courtney Reilly

About Courtney Reilly

Courtney Reilly is an account executive for GroupM ESP. She assists in the managing of and consulting for American Family Insurance's sports sponsorship platforms within the high school, college and professional space. Prior to joining GroupM ESP in March 2013, Reilly worked as a research and valuation analyst for IEG. Reilly received a Bachelor of Science in communications from Boston University.

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