The Importance of Mentorship and Passing your Torch
The start of a new year brings new goals and resolutions. For some, it might be taking more time for self-care and quality time with family. For others, it could include learning a new skill or growing in one’s leadership potential. Serving as a mentor may or may not already be on your list of 2021 resolutions. If it isn’t already, now is the perfect time to consider how becoming a mentor can not only enable you to support someone’s professional growth but also contribute to paving a path for more women to build a career in our state’s growing tech ecosystem and to grow as leaders.
In fact, a few years ago, this was exactly the path I aspired to embark on. At the time, I was excited by the potential technology had to drive innovation and how it played a significant role in driving the growth of entrepreneurship within the Indy community. I sought to make a shift from the nonprofit sector and progress in my career, so I could contribute to scaling my impact on the state’s entrepreneurial ecosystem.
I was able to successfully take the leap and join the Corporate Innovation and Business Design team at High Alpha, a B2B SaaS venture studio in Indianapolis that was pioneering a new model for entrepreneurship through combining company building with venture capital. Flash forward a few years to the present. I now have the opportunity to play a statewide role in supporting entrepreneurs by being a part of the Investment team at Elevate Ventures, a private venture development organization that seeks to invest at the pre-seed, seed, and early-stage growth levels in Indiana-based companies representing a variety of sectors, including B2B tech and the life sciences.
My journey into the tech and venture capital industries would not have been possible today without the support of mentors who invested their time to expose me to different roles, make connections to others in their network, and advise me as I explored different career opportunities. Seeing the example of my mentors showed me that I could do it too. In fact, one of the organizations that has made a major impact on my career through mentorship has been the Pass the Torch for Women Foundation, an organization I joined in 2018 as a Developing Professional (entry to mid-level professional) and now serve as a volunteer mentor for women pursuing careers in STEM.
Pass the Torch believes that all women should have access to professional growth. Every day the Foundation empowers women in our community who are Developing Professionals, Developing Leaders, single-mothers, first-generation college students, and those from underserved communities through mentoring, connecting, and investing in them at all stages of their careers. Through my involvement, I can say that I have truly benefited from the 1:1 mentoring from both female and male professionals, having access to a network of women from diverse industries, and having a peer group of Developing Professionals with whom I can build long-lasting relationships. My Pass the Torch community of mentors and peers have continued to instill confidence in me to tackle different stages of my professional journey.
- 30% are pursuing tech-related careers (i.e. cybersecurity & IT)
- 90% are returning to education adult learners (ages 22-65)
- 68% are women of color
- 40% are single mothers
All things considered, we still have a long way to go to see more women, particularly women of color be represented both within the tech industry and in tech leadership. For example, according to the National Center for Women & Information Technology, women today hold just 25% of computing roles in the U.S. Of the 25% of women working in tech, black and Hispanic women make up less than 5%. Mentorship will just be one of the several approaches that can help close this gap and enable us all to become closer to reaching a world that is more equitably represented by women at all levels of leadership.
Through mentorship and supporting the work of organizations like Pass the Torch, I believe we can all empower more women to bet on themselves and pursue opportunities where they can reach their full potential. Below are three ways to get involved today:
- Become a Mentor (either as a Volunteer Mentor or join the Legacy Leader executive group) to mentor women aspiring to be in tech
- Join the Community as a Mentee (as a Developing Professional or Developing Leader) to receive mentorship and serve as a mentor to a college student
- Get Your Company Involved by partnering and collaborating with the Foundation to bring mentoring solutions to your company and invest in your employees through professional development
Please visit the Pass the Torch website to learn more. I hope this inspires you to consider the impact you can make by passing your torch as a mentor in 2021 and beyond!