Penelope Trunk wrote today at Brazen Careerist and Yahoo Finance that a great thing for professionals to do this summer is mentor summer interns. I couldn’t agree more. Some of the best learning experiences of my life have come from people who have chosen to invest in me, show me the ropes, have conversations with me about my career dreams and help me believe in my ability to succeed. Many of those people were employers or bosses during internships.

 

Young workers today can learn a lot from mentors – about careers, industries, advancement, you  name it. Having a mentor can also help young workers launch their own careers. If I had not developed a mentoring relationship with a supervisor at my post-college internship, chances are, she wouldn’t have known me well enough to have recommended me for the job I have today.

 

But, not every supervisor is going to come to you and ask if they can mentor you. Many Gen X, Boomer and Traditionalist bosses don’t feel comfortable imposing themselves on members of our young, aspiring, somewhat mysterious – perhaps because we’re overall so technologically savvy – generation.

 

So this summer, or any time, for that matter, whether you’re an intern or an entry-level worker, I encourage you to seek out a mentor. You might be surprised at what happens. Taking the initiative to seek someone out and then asking them to mentor you shows that you see them as an expert and someone worth learning from. It might just be the start of a relationship that will change the course of your life forever.

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Well, thanks to the personal encouragement from one Penelope Trunk and one Ryan Healy, I’d like to introduce myself. My name’s Tiffany Monhollon. (Read more about me in the About section of this blog). Nice to meet you. Now that that’s taken care of, I’ll tell you a little more about myself and why I’m here. It’s all about writing my own success story. I’ll start at the beginning.

Growing up, I was a do-it-all, curious, ambitious, entrepreneurial kid. I started my first jewelry business at seven, and the ideas haven’t stopped since. When asked what I wanted to be when I grew up, I’d spout a string of occupations similar to this one: Lawyer, actress, doctor, singer, mommy, teacher and the first woman president. When grown-ups would smile and show their support of my passion by commenting that I really could be any one of those things if I wanted to, even president, I disagreed. That wasn’t the point.

I wouldn’t be one of those things, I would be all of them. Here’s why: Like most children growing up in Generation Y, I was told I could do anything. To me, this didn’t mean I could cherry-pick one job and do well in it or one career path and take it far. It literally meant to me I could be everything I ever hoped to be or wanted to be or even briefly thought might be cool. All at once. Personal and professional. Without blinking. No problem. To me, work, life, career, dreams – I didn’t draw the lines. I didn’t want to. And I understood the difference.

This do-it-all attitude was instilled in me in a very real way by my parents. I was home schooled until high school, so my family was my classroom, so to speak. And in my case, through the examples of my parents, education, work and life were all one thing. Not “going to school” in the traditional sense, I also learned the world through experiencing it, with the lines between the classroom and the kitchen or backyard or playtime blurred to the point where everything was learning. It wasn’t curriculum and tests and schedules that mattered, even though we had those, it was things like learning fractions with measuring cups while making blueberry pancakes with my dad on a Saturday morning that really taught me. This approach to life, learning, even work, is something that’s stuck with me to this very day.

From my mom I got the, the work-is-life-but-not-in-a-bad-way mentality My mom chose to stay at home with us after she taught elementary school my first two years. When she couldn’t really bring me to work with her anymore and had my sister, her traditional “work life” was over for nearly 20 years. I started reading at three, so she started schooling me then, and her work and her life were one in the same. She brought her profession into her life in a very real way, teaching three of her own children, and though she may not have made a salary, she worked hard and dedicated herself to this career, and I think she’d agree with me that it paid off. My siblings and I broke many barriers and stomped many stereotypes in a small town, made great grades, got into great colleges, and became fully functioning members of society – not that we were ever worried about any of that – she’s a fantastic teacher! But there were more than a few naysayers.

From my dad I got the I’ll-do-it-all-at-once-and-no -one’s-stopping-me mentality. My dad’s studied marine biology, ended up in PA school, and has been practicing medicine ever since. He went to work, but his work came home with him. He talked to us about science, used his medical expertise to help people in South America, helped start a free clinic in our small town, and was the go-to-guy for everyone for computer help, medical advice, volunteer projects, church involvement, and the like. I remember vividly many times as a child when my mother told my dad “You need to learn to say ‘no.'” He didn’t, to this day, so I credit him with my take-on-the-world ambition.

Now, I’m at the start of a career, looking at what I’ve done so far. Graduating with two majors in four years, with honors and a Summa status. Leaving college and getting an internship with a Fortune 500 company and parlaying that into a full-time gig at a Franchise 500 company, all while attending grad school full time and commuting insane distances every day for several years. Sure, these things are great, and I’m proud of my accomplishments, but I can’t help knowing that even now, I want more.

I still want to do it all. As I look toward the next five years in my life and think about what I want to be, my list is a little different now than it was when I was younger, but it’s just as long, if not a little more daunting. I want to be a published author, an APR, a wife and perhaps mother, a PhD, a well-known blogger, a business-owner, an entrepreneur, an industry expert. It’s hard to stop myself there, but you get the point.

And I don’t think my story is singular, by any means. The ambition, drive, and passion of my Generation Y peers excites, motivates and encourages me, because I truly believe that in a very real way, I can do all those things, and probably more. That’s why I’m here. Thanks for reading my story. I hope you’ll leave a few comments, check back often, and join me by sharing your story. Thanks!

Sort of. I’m responding to Penelope Trunk’s question for her readers about negative comments, in which she asks what we think about abrasive comments people like she and Ryan Healy frequently receive. I’m going to agree basically with what some of her readers are saying. It’s all a matter of perspective. And I mean that generationally.

Personally, I think a lot of the comments Ryan receives are negative because they’re written by people not in our generation being outraged at young people being open enough to honestly say we disagree with the worldview and values so many Gen Xers and Boomers held. We’re willing to talk about how we differ (rather unapologetically) from much of what has come before us and much of what has been predicted about us. And that’s just part of being us. I get it completely, but I’m in Gen Y so maybe that’s part of it.

Read the full post at my new blog!