The Importance of Mentorships

posted on Tuesday, July 9, 2024 in Grow Cedar Valley

Mentorship is a powerful tool for personal and professional growth. It involves a relationship where a more experienced or knowledgeable person guides and supports a less experienced individual. Mentorship can take many forms, from one-on-one relationships to peer groups, each offering unique benefits. In this article, I'll share my experiences of asking someone to be my mentor and creating a peer group with other workforce professionals in Iowa, illustrating the profound impact both aspects of mentorship can have.

After I had been in my role at Grow Cedar Valley for about six months, my boss, Lisa Skubal, suggested I attend an online training for Workforce Fundamentals through the International Economic Development Council (IEDC). I was excited because my background was in Human Resources, and I had never had formal training in workforce development or talent attraction. At that time, I felt like I was learning as I went. During one of the training sessions, a speaker named Rue caught my attention. Rue, a Workforce and Talent VP in Tulsa, Oklahoma, shared insights that resonated with me deeply. Her teaching style was engaging and easy to understand; she was a natural educator. After the course, I decided to be courageous and emailed her to ask if she would mentor me, as I was new in my role. I was specific about my request, proposing to meet 2-3 times to help me prioritize my work since I was starting from scratch. To my delight, she agreed.

This mentorship was transformative. Rue provided invaluable insights, shared her experiences, and offered guidance on how to prioritize my work. Her support boosted my confidence and skills, leading to significant progress in my career. This experience underscored the importance of having a mentor who believes in you and is committed to your development. I will forever be thankful for her!

Around the same time I met Rue, I started connecting with other workforce professionals in Iowa. Our roles are unique, often with only one or two of us in each community. As we got to know each other, we quickly saw the value in learning and supporting each other. Inspired by my positive experience with Rue, I decided to bring these individuals together to create a peer group. While individual mentorship is crucial, I recognized the immense value in peer support as well.

Our group, dubbed the Iowa Workforce Alliance, now meets quarterly to discuss our goals, challenges, and successes. We share resources, offer feedback, and learn from each other. One of the most rewarding aspects of this group is the sense of community and camaraderie it has fostered. We celebrate each other's achievements and provide a safe space to discuss failures and setbacks. This peer mentorship group not only enhances our individual growth but also strengthens our professional network and friendships.

Mentorship, whether through a personal mentor or a peer group, is a powerful catalyst for growth. My experiences with both forms of mentorship have been incredibly enriching, providing me with guidance, support, and a sense of community. I encourage everyone to be courageous and seek out mentorship opportunities, whether by finding a mentor, becoming one, or creating a peer group. The benefits are profound and far-reaching, shaping not only our careers but also our personal development.

Stephanie Detweiler, PHR

Director of Workforce & Talent