Lots of companies have mentoring programs, but it’s not always easy to find one that works. Momentum’s mentoring program has had great success for four main reasons.
- Momentum has a network of over 350 accomplished women graduates to choose from, so finding a good match is less onerous than in a company setting where the pool of high-ranking women may be smaller.
- Most women that come through our program can cite several mentors in their own lives. They are most often men. Of course men make great mentors and those relationships are important. At the same time, having a woman mentor means someone who understands first-hand some of the unique challenges career women face, such as unconscious bias, wage gaps, family planning and extended family care.
- Our network of potential mentors come from many different companies and represent a broad range of industries and roles. This diversity has real advantages over having a mentor from within the same company.
- All participants in the mentor program, mentors and mentees alike, receive training on how to set some goals and parameters. This training is very helpful in making sure both parties understand what they are trying to achieve and by when.
Currently we work with organizations like Girls Inc., area colleges, organizations for young professionals, and Momentum corporate partners to pair our graduates with young women seeking mentors. For example, last year we teamed up Momentum graduate and entrepreneur Jennifer Skjellum with a young Executive Property Manager for Davis Management, Molly Shuster.
Molly shared this with Momentum about the experience:
“Simply saying ‘thank you’ to Momentum for pairing me with Jennifer doesn’t feel like enough. Jennifer’s mentorship has developed into a friendship that I know will carry on for years to come; the guidance Jennifer provides both professionally and personally is the best gift I could ask for, and I encourage others to seek the same through this program. As a young woman, having an experienced professional you can look up to and call on with questions, knowing you will receive solid answers, is an advantage I encourage others to find. To be honest, I cannot recommend this program enough – it has been a wonderful experience.”
The benefits of mentoring are reserved for the mentee. There’s a lot in it for the mentor too, according to Jennifer:
“After graduating from Momentum I joined the Momentum Alumna Program (MAP) to continue my relationship with the organization and with the people I met through the program. I also joined so that I could take advantage of the opportunity to be placed as a mentor. Mentoring, networking, and relationship-building are the benefits of MAP that are most important to me. As a successful woman, I enjoy motivating and mentoring others. I also feel an obligation to help ensure the next generation of professional women have the opportunity to advance further than I have.
I was matched with Molly Shuster. Over the past nine months of getting to know her, I gained a new friend, a better sense of self and have become a better listener. It has been fulfilling to leverage my experience and networks to benefit another person. “
Molly Shuster is the Executive Property Manager for Davis Management, Inc. in Birmingham, AL. She graduated from the University of Alabama in 2016 and looks forward to continuing her experience with an emphasis on Birmingham’s growing real estate market.
Jennifer Skjellum is an entrepreneur, educator and ecosystem builder. Her 25 year career includes experience building companies, building educational programs for undergraduates and professionals, and most recently leading a nonprofit organization with the mission of growing and strengthening the technology ecosystem in Birmingham, Alabama region.