The Value of Mentorship | Happy 40th PLEN!

Caitlin Donahue by Caitlin Donahue | May 20, 2019

Two and a half years ago, I walked into Jennifer Curley’s office in search of a female mentor. As the only woman in leadership at my old firm, I was looking for a successful woman in the industry who could help guide me, serve as my sounding board and assure me that I was on the right track.

I walked out of that meeting with a job offer. Two years later, that meeting has paid dividends for both of us.

Jennifer and I owe our connection to PLEN – the Public Leadership Education Network – a non-profit dedicated to mentoring and preparing young women for careers in public policy. I sit on the Board of PLEN and Jennifer is Vice Chair of the St. Lawrence University Board, one of PLEN’s member schools.

This month, we’re proud to be a part of PLEN’s 40th anniversary celebration. At Curley, we live PLEN’s mission every day. We strive to employ young, eager professionals at the start of their careers, equipping them with the skills and confidence they need to become future leaders.

We believe in the value of mentorship and have shared a few of our thoughts for making sure you’re getting the most out of mentoring.

  • Know What You’re Asking – As a mentee, it’s important that you come prepared. Mentors are happy to lend their time and insight, but make sure you’re using their time wisely. Come to the meeting with specific asks and goals. Set the agenda ahead of time to ensure your mentor knows what you’re looking to get out of each session.
  • Follow-Up and Follow-Through – Investing in relationships is one of the most important things you can do for your career. Your network and contacts are your currency in a town like Washington, DC. Make sure you keep in touch with mentors you’ve met along the way. Connect with them on LinkedIn and let them know when you’ve made a move. You never know when your network might be helpful to them.
  • Pay it Forward – We live by the golden rule at Curley – treat others as you want to be treated. The same applies for mentorship. As you grow in your career, make sure you’re carving out time to help mentor and guide other young professionals. And, most importantly, when you’re in a position to give people their first break, hire smart, young people who will value the opportunity and also pay it forward.