In honour of Women’s Day, we will be donating a portion of sales from March 4-8 to Girls E-Mentorship (GEM).
GEM is a program with which I was personally involved last year, and so I have witnessed its impact first-hand. It was founded in 2012 by Rochelle de Goias. Rochelle was a Senior Policy Advisor who spent the first half of her career working as an analyst and consultant in both the private and public sectors. She graduated from the University of London with an MA in International Relations. During her graduate studies, Rochelle felt she lacked professional female mentors who could help guide her towards her goals and aspirations. She became passionate about creating a program to empower adolescent girls through mentorship and creating a mentorship culture in Toronto. Her goal with GEM is to help girls to reach their full potential and emerge as empowered young women and future female leaders.
At the start of the program, GEM matches GEMgirls with a mentor, and we met at their first event. We stayed in touch by phone/email/text every week and made an effort to meet in person once per month. GEM arranged half-day sessions every other month called “GEMinars.” These were hosted by professional women in their corporate offices and gave participants an opportunity to learn about various industries and to better understand the job market. Each GEMinar started with a talk given by the hosts to introduce themselves and to talk a bit about their career paths. Then, we would do a structured activity on the topic of the GEMinar, such as personal branding, how to craft an elevator pitch or tips for interview success. The topic is geared towards girls who are in their final years of high school, but I can honestly say that even I picked up many good tips at the GEMinars! The GEMinars also offered a fantastic opportunity for mentees to meet other mentors.
My mentee was a very bright and well-rounded high school student, and I was able to offer her some guidance regarding career choice and some practice in interviewing. She was amazingly self-sufficient, so it was pretty easy to mentor her. The benefits of mentorship have been well-described - both for the mentee AND the mentor. For the mentee, it provides a supportive voice to grow and nurture confidence to set higher goals, take risks and achieve at higher levels. This is accomplished through a combination of advice, encouragement, and role modelling. Having access to a personal mentor and the wider mentor network gives her access to resources to provide insight into different careers.
For me, the experience allowed me to meet a very talented group of high school girls. I was truly impressed by their thoughtfulness and the enthusiasm with which they attacked their goals. When I thought back to what I was doing when I was in high school, it made me feel like a bit of a slacker. Attending the GEMinars contributed to my own personal and professional growth and allowed me to meet other mentors. They are a very impressive bunch of women! The best thing about mentoring was getting the chance to help a wonderful young person to develop her full potential. If you are interested in mentoring a GEMgirl, head over to the online application.
GEM is a registered charity and is currently in its fifth programming year.