Nicole Rodriguez, a University of Alberta student, has participated as a protégé with interVivos for three programs, including the recent Fall 2020 Black, Indigenous, and People of Colour (BIPOC) mentor-focused program. We had a virtual chat with Nicole to find out why she keeps on coming back and why other post-secondary students should also take a chance and sign up for a future program.
Nicole’s highlight of being an interVivos protégé :
When I first registered as a protégé, I had just graduated with my undergraduate degree. I didn’t know what to do next with my education. I felt terrified because I thought that I was falling behind.
However, meeting incredible mentors, all with diverse sets of experiences and past challenges, changed how I saw progress and my career. And so, to answer your question, I would say the highlight of being a protégé was learning about the career journeys of all of my mentors. They taught me that it is okay to get stuck, to learn to be comfortable with uncertainty and to pause and ask ourselves what the next step that I can take is. I learned from my interVivos mentors that careers are not linear, and just because you decide to take a path does not mean you will be forced to stay there forever. Our values and passions evolve, which might mean that our minds and directions will change, and that’s okay!
She shared how her experience with interVivos helped her grow:
I am so thankful for interVivos because I have met amazing mentors who listen to understand and support the stage I am in. Dr. Bonnieca Islam, my first ever interVivos mentor, taught me the importance of the decision-making process. That is, sometimes what is easy is not always what is best. My next mentor, Beata Montgomery, taught me that creativity thrives in the space of non-judgment and that vulnerability is a strength. Mike Zouhri, my current mentor, is challenging me to test my ideas and consider various perspectives to develop innovative solutions.
I owe a lot of my growth to my interVivos mentors. And to think that these are brilliant individuals who are freely giving their time without conditions inspires me to do my best and contribute my skills to our community! I hope there is a phrase higher than “thank you” for expressing how incredibly grateful I am for them.
Why she thinks post-secondary students should sign up as interVivos protégés:
By matching protégés with mentors, the interVivos mentorship program helps students explore potential career options and learn how to apply their education, training, and experiences. The program also helps them expand their network and get to know other professionals in their field of interest. By talking to mentors, students can increase their confidence in their chosen topics, from problem-solving, communication skills, networking, and leadership skills.
What motivates her to keep on signing up as an interVivos protégé:
There is nothing more exciting than the idea that I will meet another brilliant mentor who is excited to walk with me in exploring ideas and career-related challenges! I feel that it is an honour to have this opportunity, and I would not miss it for the world! Again, the fact that these are volunteer mentors already tells so much about how passionate they are about helping others succeed.
I believe we are all lifelong learners and that the best way to learn is through engaging and forming community with others, and interVivos is a fantastic platform for that!
We also talked about her current involvement with our BIPOC mentor focused program:
We must celebrate our amazing BIPOC mentors in Edmonton, people who have different identities, experiences and come from diverse backgrounds. Having BIPOC mentors and celebrating their contributions to our community makes me feel a person of colour. I am so grateful to my current mentor, Mike Zouhri. My mentorship feels very collaborative, and I always learn something new every meeting! I am thankful my current mentor listens, adds to, and even challenges my ideas. I feel that I am still in an open and safe space of non-judgment.
Nicole also shared her best tips for students to benefit from the interVivos mentorship program:
Take time also to get to know your mentors.
Do not be afraid to share your “stuck points” and challenges you are currently facing.
Be prepared during mentorship meetings, give them specific updates, and continuously show appreciation!