Empowering Talent Through Mentorship

Posted February 9, 2024 By Yasmeen Chánes

In 2023, ILLUME launched a formal mentorship program as a cornerstone of our commitment to fostering a culture of connection, professional growth, and continuous improvement. Rooted in the belief that collective knowledge and collaboration are the driving forces behind our success, we sought to cultivate meaningful connections between team members. This feels especially important as most of us do not see each other in person daily. By facilitating mentorship relationships, we aim to provide valuable support for individual professional development journeys while creating a platform for the exchange of innovative ideas. The Mentorship Program stands as a testament to our dedication to nurture the talents within our team and collectively shape a stronger, more collaborative ILLUME for the future.

Mentee Reflections from Our Mentorship Program’s First Year

I recently sat down with the mentees who gracefully navigated their first year in ILLUME’s Mentorship Program. Eager to gather their insights, feedback, and personal experiences, I also sought to uncover their takeaways from this experience. Below, we share their candid reflections to provide valuable insights into the transformative impact of mentorship, illustrating the profound value that cultivating such programs holds for organizational professional development.

Question 1: What were some of your goals for mentorship?

My overarching objective was to build a connection with a member of the ILLUME team whom I don’t get to work with regularly. I also aimed to have broader discussions about consulting with someone who has more experience in the field than I do.

When I initially started in the mentorship program, my primary goal was to expand my network within the office and the broader industry. I wanted someone in my corner who could provide guidance and support. Fortunately, I found that in my mentor. They were consistently available to answer questions, discuss research topics, and even help me navigate my personal growth and development.

Question 2: What is something meaningful/ impactful you learned from your mentor?

My mentor helped me zoom out to see both my career and my life more broadly beyond the moment and the role I am in now. They helped me consider how to make a difference in what I care about in the world, both in the work that I do and what I do outside of work.

We discussed a wide range of topics, including the nitty-gritty details of project budgeting, qualitative research techniques and strategies, time management, and Gantt charts. But it wasn’t just work-related; we also chatted about how to truly unplug while on vacations and our beloved pets.

Question 3: What kinds of things did you discuss with your mentor?

We talked about our career journeys, consulting in general, how to advance toward my goals, advocate for myself, write findings and recommendations, and do a billing analysis. We also opened R and walked through how to sample in real-time, develop code, and talk through how to improve it.

We talked a lot about equity and how the energy efficiency industry can better support disadvantaged communities. We also talked about current events in the energy industry and interesting project work we are doing at ILLUME. I enjoyed the transparency of our conversations.

Question 4: What useful tips, tricks, and/or tools did you learn about from your mentor?

My mentor gave me an overview of Excel and SPSS including tips and tricks to do survey analysis faster. These discussions were timely as I was concurrently involved in survey analysis for a project. We would also troubleshoot issues I was having in the code together while discussing ways to make my code more efficient. I still use the tricks my mentor taught me and refer to my mentorship meeting notes often.

My mentor shared practical advice for conducting qualitative interviews too. They recommended writing timestamps in my interview notes when a research participant is saying something interesting. This way, I can return to the recording and find it relatively quickly. It’s simple, effective, and has made a real difference in my research.

Question 5: How has mentorship helped you in your role or helped you think about your career and career journey?

Having dedicated time to discuss projects with someone knowledgeable is really valuable. This time allows for a deeper understanding of project-related topics that might not be feasible during regular project work. Additionally, asking specific questions and discussing methodologies has enhanced my skills, providing a better grasp of tasks for future projects and facilitating assistance to others. Furthermore, learning about someone else’s career path offers a valuable perspective, fostering an appreciation for my own career path and igniting excitement for the future.

So many different ways! Learning how my mentor handles her calendar, time tracking, task approaches, team communication, work perspective, staying updated, industry knowledge, upcoming projects, and role challenges significantly enhanced my skills and boosted my confidence as an analyst.

Question 6: How would you characterize your experience in participating in the mentorship program?

I enjoyed being in the mentorship program! It was really cool to get to know my mentor! It’s great to have the opportunity to get to know someone you might not normally work with on projects. I appreciated having someone who is further along in their career offer advice based on their own experience. It was great to have the space to share problems, brainstorm solutions, and make a human connection with an amazing coworker!

Participating in the mentorship program has been a great experience. The dedicated time for learning and mentor guidance has made me feel appreciated and invested in. This experience has directly benefited my project work, enhancing my understanding of specific topics, processes, and the energy efficiency industry.

Elevating Success Through Ongoing Mentorship

It’s evident from our mentees’ reflections that our mentorship program had a profound influence on their professional and personal growth. The dedicated time, guidance, and wisdom imparted by mentors have not only enriched their industry-specific knowledge but also instilled confidence and reassurance in navigating their careers. The reciprocal exchange of knowledge and perspectives generated new synergies in ILLUME’s learning environment, reinforcing the importance of ongoing collaboration and the value of fostering meaningful connections within our team. We are excited to expand our mentorship program to our growing team this year and look forward to continued growth, learning, and the collective success that unfolds through mentorship.

Stay tuned for an upcoming blog where we’ll share our mentors’ experiences.