From the outside looking in, a sorority big sister and little sister relationship can seem cheesy, but being a big sister taught me 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’s just a few years older than you as you can from someone who is 15 or 20 years older.
Many people overlook the advice of those who are close in age because they assume younger mentors do not have enough experience to give good advice. However, I learned right away that the off the record advice I was giving my little was being taken seriously and it was impacting her in a good way.
Even as a young twenty-something, I had good advice to give and had influence over others. You are an expert in whatever it is that you do, no matter your age. That’s hugely empowering as the youngest employee at my current company in major ways. My little still attributes the spike in her GPA to my advice on best study practices. Four years later it was incredible watching her graduate Magna Cum Laude.
You get out what you put in
As an only child, I took my role as a big very seriously. I invested a lot of time and energy into my littler, her little, and the new freshmen that were added to our “family” when I was a senior. Some people may think it’s silly to spend so much time with younger girls, but I have a solid group of incredibly talented young ladies who are my number one fans, cheerleaders and supporters simply because I was that person for them.
Take the time to learn about someone and help them meet their goals; you’ll quickly see that person keep your best interests at heart too. It’s not always easy to find a group of other women who support you, but you get out what you put in, and when you put in good, you get good out.
Mentoring feels great
Mentoring in and of itself is truly rewarding, even if you don’t get anything in return. As a big, I’ve seen my little sisters land their dream internships, take a risk moving to a new city, gain leadership positions in the organizations they’re passionate about, break out of bad relationships, fall into great relationships, overcome fears and insecurities, and graduate with flying colors.
Of course, this is not all because of me, but I know I played a major role in helping them make the decisions that led them to their accomplishments. Seeing them succeed is more rewarding than I could’ve ever imagined. If you’re ever feeling down and out, help someone out in an area where you have great knowledge. Even do it for free. You’ll end the conversation feeling amazing.
Mentoring teaches you how to be a mentee
Last but not least, being a mentor to my littles taught me how to be a mentee. Every time one of my little sisters sent me an email or a text thanking me for my help, my day was made. I also loved when my littles celebrated my accomplishments with me. Whenever something exciting was happening in my life, I felt extremely supported and loved by their handmade cards, Facebook status shout out’s and Saturday night cheers over boxed wine.
As a mentee, I always make sure to share the big and small victories with my mentor. It doesn’t require much time or money to make someone feel celebrated. Although I may not be able to send over a bottle of Veuve Cliquot to congratulate my sophisticated and accomplished mentors, I can still let them know I’m thinking of them by sending a handwritten thank you note. It goes a long way.
At the end of the day, being a big sister taught me to be a mentor in more ways than one. I learned that my advice and insight was valuable, investing in relationships with people pays off, helping other’s genuinely feels amazing, and celebrating others accomplishments in small ways goes a long way. Not only am I grateful for the special relationships I made as a big sister, but also for all of the lessons I’ve learned about mentorship along the way.
What did you learn about mentorship from your sorority or student organization?
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