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Camaraderie, Not Competition

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Jackie Paulus (right) with her mentee Sarah Gomez and the WISE WIthin Chicago wrap-up session.

A good friend and fellow WISE member and mentor recruited me to apply to the WISE Within program. Before doing so, I picked her brain extensively about the process and what it meant to be a mentor and a member of WISE in general. First, I covered the ever-annoying questions of self-doubt: What would I have to offer a mentee? How would I be able to help her? Then, I advanced to the questions of self-interest: Who are these women, and how am I going to compete with their accomplishments and job titles? Will they think I’m a phony? Is this going to be a time vampire, and do I have enough time in my schedule to be a good mentor? And, finally, will I have to listen to people list their degrees and talk about how nothing will stop them from climbing the corporate ladder?

It was strange how my insecurities surfaced from such a simple, flattering request.

My worries were immediately put at ease after the first WISE chapter event I attended. My first thought: These women are successful and normal. It was the first time I had participated in this kind of forum with a collection of like-minded, strong, successful and independent women who had no agenda other than to help each other. Don’t get me wrong, this group had great pedigree, but the thing that stood out to me most was that it wasn’t a silent competition. These women truly believed that there was enough success to go around and that because the woman next to them succeeded, the entire group was stronger for it.

Then, there was the added bonus of being paired with my mentee. It was obvious that the WISE Within committee was thoughtful in the pairing process. We had so much in common — from our career progression to job experience. She took the lead in setting up meetings for us, and when we met, we talked about our future goals, current issues and everything in between. There was nothing time-consuming or painful about it, and I very much looked forward to every time we met. I enjoyed it so much that I signed up for WISE Within again and have been paired with another overachiever. I’m looking forward to getting to know her and discovering how I might be able to assist with her development and personal goals.

The bottom line is I tried something new, and the end results were brilliant relationships that also happen to be great contacts.

Jackie Paulus

About Jackie Paulus

Jackie Paulus is the director of marketing and digital innovation for WGN Radio, the flagship station for the Chicago Blackhawks, Chicago Cubs and Northwestern University athletics, in Chicago. Her previous experience includes digital marketing, events, operations and media/sports marketing for the Iowa Cubs, Memphis Redbirds and KMOX Radio, the flagship station for the St. Louis Cardinals, St. Louis Blues and University of Missouri athletics. Paulus is a certified facilitator for brainstorming and creative thinking and received the St. Louis Business Journal’s “30 Under 30” award for her professional achievements and civic involvement.

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