by Julie Randall Romig
For as long as I can recall, I have had the good fortune of being surrounded by professional and personal mentors. I have a wonderful boss who believes in helping develop his staff as leaders and even engages us in “book reads” on leadership principles regularly. I have parents who have always taken a keen interest in helping my sister and I identify our professional and personal goals and create a roadmap to taking them from imagination to reality.
Despite these wonderful assets, by my mid-thirties, I had reached a slump - professionally and personally. I was less of a planner and more of a doer.
With two children and a full-time job, I barely had time to check and make sure my shoes matched let alone think about what was next for me professionally.
Then, I made an impulsive decision to say yes to an opportunity. I applied for Mentorship York, a program I had heard good things about but had put off investing time in because I was too mired in the chaos of daily life as a working mom to think beyond my next 15-minute interval.
That simple, impulsively submitted application, changed me and my life for the better … and forever.
There is a Henry David Thoreau quote that I love: “It is not enough to be busy. So are the ants. The question is: What are we busy about?”
Before Mentorship York, I would have said I was busy trying to keep the balls I juggled from dropping. Before Mentorship York, I would have answered, “I’m busy just getting through today. And then I’ll get through tomorrow. And in a few years, I’ll think about where I’m going professionally again.”
Today, as a Mentorship York Class of 2012 graduate – one with a renewed sense of purpose and a more crystallized vision for my future at work and at home – I can’t imagine where I would be if I had listened to my original inner naysayer.
There are many valuable takeaways from participating in the program; the rich diversity of your classmates, the quality of the interactions you have with your chosen mentor, the leadership lessons you learn through conversation and self-reflection.
For me, the most valuable takeaway from the program was that I had to do more than just “show up” if I wanted to grow from the mentorship experience. I had to take time each day to think about where I wanted to go and how I wanted to get there. I had to give myself the luxury of a few extra minutes of self-reflection each morning so that I wasn’t just being busy like one of Thoreau’s ants, but working purposefully toward a goal, a vision for my professional and personal future.
Mentorship York lit a fire in me that inspired me to start a master’s program I had been postponing for years. Talking with my mentor helped me clarify steps I could take now – even as a harried working mom – to establish a better path toward my future goals.
Most of all, Mentorship York taught me that I needed to get over thinking I was “too busy” to dream about my future if I ever wanted to grow professionally and personally.
I’m still just as busy – if not more so – than I was before the program.
But I’m not an ant; this Mentorship York graduate is busy with a purpose.
Julie Randall Romig is the Director of Communications and Marketing for Central York School District and a graduate student in the George Washington University School of Political Management and Strategic Public Relations. She is a 2012 Mentorship York program graduate and resides in York, PA.