A few weeks ago I interviewed my former manager as part of a series I'm writing for STEMedia. It was a little surreal to be asking her questions about how she became an engineer, her past life (she was a dairy farmer for 13 years before studying engineering), advice for others studying STEM disciplines and so on. She probably doesn't know this, but I've long considered her a mentor. I never formally asked her to mentor me-- I just watched her outstanding ability as a manager, and hoped that one day when I was a manager, that I'd be able to follow her example.
She really cares about her employees and their careers/career happiness. She was the only manager I've ever felt I could be completely honest with and that she'd really listen to me. Even people who didn't report to her sought her confidence and advice. She also made work fun-- a Halloween party with a Thriller flash mob dance is not something too many managers would coordinate. That's the kind of manager I'd like to be. I probably won't have the opportunity at my current work place to be a manager, but one day I won't be there, and at the new place, if I'm responsible for people's careers, I'm totally modeling my management style after her.
She also has a pretty amazing and inspiring story of how she became an engineer, reinforcing my belief that engineers come for anywhere, and a child just needs to know that the opportunity exists for them. Maybe you're curious now about her story, and for that you'll just have to wait for the STEMedia piece to come out. That's what writer's call a hook. :)
STEMedia already has one of the interviews I did up on their website, and the person I interviewed for that story is also a mentor. I also don't think she knows that, but I totally look up to her as well. She's the person that I daydream and scheme with, and part of why I've dabbled in children's books. We both want to encourage and inspire girls in STEM. In face, she started her own company to inspire girls, particularly minority girls, in STEM, and I really admire her for taking that chance. Starting your own company while still working as an engineer is pretty awesome (to me). How could I not look up to this person? And her story is totally already up on STEMedia, so I encourage you to check it out.
Of course there's many more people in engineering that I admire, and you'll soon be reading about them. Most likely on STEMedia, but maybe also here on my blog. On the days I feel like shark (from the RA, annoying workplace, and such), I forget some of my blessings. Having great mentors is a blessing, and I'm so thankful to these women for teaching me so much. Thank you, thank you, thank you!
Tell me who your mentors are and why you admire them in the comments!
Here's the link to STEMedia: http://stemedia.org/