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The Mentor-Protégé Relationship

The Mentor-Protégé relationship is distinct from any other relationship you will come to experience. While it’s natural to seek career advice from a close friend or relative, these people might not have experience in the field(s) you’re looking into or might be seeking similar advice themselves. When you’re a military spouse looking to jumpstart your career, it’s comforting to have peers on base or online who are able to empathize with your particular situation, but having someone in your life who can provide you not only with understanding, but also direction is valuable too. 

A Mentor is someone in our lives who is considered to be a trusted advisor––an idea that comes to us from Homer’s “The Odyssey,” wherein Odysseus, away at war, leaves his young son to be watched over by Mentor, an old confidant. In this sense, a Mentor is meant to impart wisdom or guidance in some way (although they’re not always the same age as a parent). In ACP’s case, a Mentor is someone who can provide you crucial information about corporate America, feedback on your résumé and cover letters, strategies for starting your own business and/or knowledge about yourself as a competitive candidate for roles you’re interested in. ACP’s Military Spouse Mentoring Program recently reached a new milestone with 500 military spouses successfully completing the mentorship program as alum. Among the 500 alumni was Sheiva, a 31 year old mother of two who is currently working as a Housing Manager for the U.S. Army. 

When Sheiva began her mentorship in September of 2019 she was working as a branch manager for a local bank but was looking to make a career change. Sheiva was paired with ACP Mentor, Linda Y., who is a Director at a large financial institution. Linda and Sheiva set to work immediately on revising Sheiva’s résumé and improving her interviewing skills. After a few months Sheiva was able to obtain a new position working for the federal government. When asked what having an ACP mentorship meant for her and her career journey, Sheiva said that it was the inspiration she needed, “Seeing where my Mentor was, hearing her experience and how she got there gave me the motivation and drive that I needed to keep pushing forward.” Throughout their year-long mentorship, Sheiva could count on Linda to give her advice on big-picture areas like how to focus her career search as well as more targeted items like post-interview thank – you notes, tailoring cover letters, and LinkedIn invites. 

Once Sheiva was settled in her new role, their conversations shifted to self-improvement and adapting to the new workplace, “For me, it was about building confidence. I would get Linda’s opinion on how to communicate with hiring managers or recruiters. She was really great at letting me bounce ideas off of her and giving me sound advice when I needed it.” Now, Sheiva works as a Housing Manager for the U.S. Army Installation Management Command. In her role she helps soldiers and fellow military spouses find affordable housing for themselves and their families. Sheiva recently came back into ACP’s program as a Mentor and is awaiting her first Protégé match. She looks forward to giving back to a Protégé in the same way that Linda gave back to her.

Having already completed the program, Sheiva not only understands the value of a Mentor-Protégé relationship but also how you can get the most out of it. When asked what advice she would give to a military spouse who is entering into an ACP mentorship Sheiva recommended setting expectations from the start, “Let your Mentor know what they can do to help you succeed. If you don’t have that conversation or set that expectation, then the mentorship won’t be successful. It’s also important to keep communicating. Let your Mentor know what your needs are, what’s changing and how they can best support you.” This is a crucial piece of advice to take with you into your own mentorship. As a Protégé, you are the one forging your own path; your Mentor is there as a guide and helping hand along the way. 

If Sheiva and Linda’s Mentor-Protégé relationship inspires you, please consider applying to be a Protégé in our Military Spouse Mentoring Program by clicking here.

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