When mentee Eliska Krychova was balancing two part-time jobs and looking to start a career abroad at the same time, her mentor Anca Trandaf jumped in to help. In this interview, they reflect on their mentoring sessions, the importance of asking for help and how you can benefit from mentoring even if your needs change over time.
What inspired you to join the Mentoring program?
Anca [mentor]: I've spent a lot of time over the past couple of years mentoring and coaching women. And that became really close to my heart, to be inspired and inspire others to transform their lives for the better. So while I was doing this, inside my company, I thought it would be really nice to make a bigger impact outside of my company. I feel I'm in a place where I have achieved my career goals. Obviously, it's a lifetime of learning, so you never stop. This is something that really makes my heart sing.
Eliska [mentee]: For me, there were two reasons. The first reason that made me think about Femme Palette was that I began feeling unhappy in my job. Only about 50% of it made sense to me. As that was my first job after university, this was not good. The second reason was that me and my boyfriend decided to go abroad. I was hesitating about what kind of job I could find and how I should proceed. I needed some guidance on what I want and which way to go.
Was there something that surprised you during your mentoring sessions?
Eliska [mentee]: Anca was the perfect match for me. I can say that from the first meeting, it was perfect. We were able to speak about all kinds of topics and I was able to open up. That was a big surprise for me.
Anca [mentor]: I definitely felt the same. Every time I work with Eliska, I feel like it’s me a couple of years back. What surprises me the most in my work with women is that I forget how amazing we are. Not because of our past achievements, but because of our amazing qualities and what we bring to the table.
Eliska, in which areas do you feel like you have progressed in thanks to your mentor?
Eliska [mentee]: I think the biggest achievement we made was that she boosted my self-confidence. She focused on my self-awareness, how my mind works. Another was communication, active listening and how she prepared me for job interviews. She showed me a perspective where I don’t have to be afraid to ask questions.
Anca, what have you learned from having Eliska as a mentee?
Anca [mentor]: That's a big question. I'm always learning. But probably that you cannot teach another person unless you take time to invest in creating and nurturing your human relationship. In our first meeting, I was ready to jump into teacher mode. But in the next one, I sat back and listened to Eliska. From our human conversation, I understood which direction we should go in. We just went with the flow.
Eliska [mentee]: I really appreciated Anca’s flexibility. I needed to change my SMART goals during the course of the program. Anca was always able to help me and challenge me to do something new. I’m really happy about this.
What did you cover in your mentoring sessions?
Eliska [mentee]: In the beginning, we started working on the SMART goals I defined, but then we needed to change them slightly. However, our most covered topics were self-confidence and self-awareness. I also wanted to learn more about project management. Another area was communication and active listening.
What was your favorite moment in your mentoring sessions?
Anca [mentor]: Definitely in the beginning when we talked about Eliska moving to another country. I also had this experience and it was nice to be able to share. I also remember thinking that life is never how you plan it. We expect to go in a straight line, but it’s more fuzzy.
Eliska [mentee]: I remember two favorite moments, The first was Anca’s flexibility. Once, I just came to the session and said I needed to talk more about time management and how to manage my two jobs. Anca directly reacted and said, “ok, let’s start right now”. The second was when Anca suggested discussing how to dream big and she had an amazing exercise for me on how to design your life. I really enjoyed preparing and discussing this.
Do you have anything that you would recommend to other mentors and mentees?
Anca [mentor]: Success leaves clues. We never need to invent the wheel ourselves. We can actually ask for help. The first step is asking. That’s something that I’ve personally learned and it wasn’t easy. As a female leader, you are taught to believe you have all the answers to help yourself. But no one can succeed in isolation.
Eliska [mentee]: I would recommend to everybody to just go for it. There is also the possibility to add coaching, which I did myself because I was not exactly sure what I wanted to discuss during the mentoring. That helped me a lot. Also, don’t be scared to ask questions and get help.
Anca [mentor]: Having heard what Eliska said, I think a great mentor is able to see what the mentee can become and then help them navigate towards that direction.
Thank you, Anca and Eliska, for speaking so openly about your experience and providing inspiration to other mentors and mentees. This story is proof that getting a mentor can help you achieve everything you wanted from your career, and more!