The relationship between a sorority big sister and a little sister might look cliche from an outsider’s perspective, but it taught me how to be a mentor in my professional life.
The Value of Near Peer Advice
As a student at Babson College, I was in the Women’s Leadership Program and our Director, Susan Duffy, always spoke about the idea of “near-peer” advice and mentorship. Duffy used this term to describe the theory that you can learn just as much from someone who is only a few years older than you are as opposed to somebody who is 15 or 20 years older.
Many people underestimate the advice of their peers, assuming that they don’t have enough experience to offer good counsel. However, I quickly learned that the off-the-record advice I was giving my little sister was being taken seriously and making a positive impact on her life.
Being a young adult, I found that I had perspective and authority over others, despite my youth. No matter your age, you are an expert in something. This is incredibly empowering, especially for me as the youngest employee at my current company. My little sister attributes the significant increase in her GPA to my advice on best study practices. Four years later it was surreal watching her graduate Magna Cum Laude.
You Get Out What You Put In
Because I am an only child, I understood early on how important it is to take care of others. So, when I was in high school and my little sister was born, I became her protector. And as a senior, when we got new freshmen “sisters,” I took them under my wing just like the big sisters before I had done for me. To some people spending time with younger girls may seem like a waste but these are my fans–my number one supporters who follow everything I do because they know that’s what big sisters do: lead by example.
When you get to know someone and help them achieve their goals, they will also Start to think of your interests. It can be hard to find a group of women who support you, but it’s worth it because you reap what you sow. If build positive relationships with others, You will get the same in return.
Mentoring Feels Great
Even if it doesn’t come with any external benefits, mentoring is its own reward. I’ve seen my little sisters accomplish so much because of the guidance I’ve given them – like landing their dream internships, taking a risk and moving to a new city, or becoming leaders in the organizations they love. Plus, they’re also more confident and have stronger relationships thanks to what I’ve taught them.
Although I can’t take all the credit, I am confident that I contributed to their success by providing sound advice. It is incredibly gratifying to see them achieve the goals they set for themselves. The next time you’re feeling low, try lending a hand to someone who could benefit from your expertise—you’ll both walk away feeling great.
Mentoring Teaches You How To Be a Mentee
Lastly, being a mentor to my littles taught me how to be a mentee. I was elated every time one of my little sisters sent me an email or text thanking me for my help. Moreover, I loved when they celebrated my accomplishments with handmade cards, Facebook shout-outs, and Saturday night cheers (over boxed wine, of course).
I always make sure to share my successes, both big and small, with my mentor. It doesn’t take much time or money to make someone feel appreciated. Although I may not be able to send over a bottle of Veuve Cliquot to congratulate my mentors, I can still let them know I’m thinking of them by sending a handwritten thank you note. It goes a long way.
Being a big sister taught me how to be a mentor in more ways than I could have imagined. Through these relationships, I learned that my advice was valuable and that investing in other people genuinely pays off. Helping others feel amazing, and celebrating their accomplishments- no matter how small- goes a long way. These special relationships helped me learn some of the most important lessons about being a mentor along the way.
What did you learn about mentorship from your sorority or student organization?