Leading by Example: A Mentor-Mentee Success Story


"If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader." - John Quincy Adams

Mentor: Shaunna

I’m knowledgeable, but not an expert and do not consider myself one. I have been a mentor and a mentee and I try to use my leadership skills daily. You may have read previous posts of mine how I found my niche, my passion in the non-profit/foundation sector. Since then I have been able to utilize a lot of my skill sets learned from my mentor, my boss. The past 2 months, I have had the privilege to mentor a summer intern at the Foundation I work at. Even before she started, just looking at Jennifer Nativo's resume, she had shown enthusiasm and passion for the non-profit sector. When she started, just on her first day she proved knowledgeable and had more than enough skill sets for the job, she was also eager to take on any task, with guidance at first. Her interests and passions were similar to mine and we just clicked. Even several years apart in age, I could see myself in her and knew she has potential for great things.

So what does this back-story have to do with leadership? It has to do by leading by example. Since the first day I was able to sit with Jenn and teach her our database and grant funding process. I was also able to work with her on creating press releases, social media posts, preparing reports and making sure she understood the ins and outs of the Foundation. Three things I took into account while working with Jenn:

  1.  Be an example. I, personally, am a visual learner and I am very aware not everyone learns the same, however when mentoring and leading Jenn to help her be successful, I tried explain everything visually so she could understand everything fully. I made sure to sit with her at her desk and work on the computer and show examples or demonstrate any task or correction.
  2.  Be a resource. I love reading so any time I come across an article, a blog post, a book I ALWAYS share it with colleagues and friends who I think it will be useful to. I started doing this with Jenn. I’d say once a week or sometimes a few times a week I’d send her something, usually relating to millennial’s that will be resourceful to her. ( This is actually how I got her connected to The Niche Movement & got her reading the blog J )
  3.  Always listen.  Even though this is listed as number three, this is one of the most important things I took into account, to stop and listen. If it is listening to a question, an idea or just taking the time to listen to Jenn’s insights and thoughts, before taking action or reacting.

These were something my boss did with me when I first started and to be able to pass along this knowledge to Jenn has been a great opportunity for the both of us. Additionally, I always made sure to take time out of my day to make sure she was on track or understood the why, what and how to a task and to be available for questions. As Jenn continues and finishes school, I made sure to let her know to continue to keep in contact and any help I can be as she continues her path to finding her niche, to just give me a call.

A mentor/mentee relationship is a two–way street.

So how did my efforts, leading by example, benefit Jenn? I asked her to share her story. Jen is a small town girl from New Jersey who loves bumming at the beach, eating, and traveling. She is a Junior at Fairfield University majoring in business management with a minor in French. Jenn loves volunteering her time for others and therefore wears her heart on her sleeve. Nonetheless, she is a driven person and wants to become a boss one day! Connect with Jenn on LinkedIn!

Mentee: Jenn

Working for a nonprofit foundation requires skills and taking on responsibilities that are in no way a shortage of the expertise needed to run a corporate business.

Over the past two months about, I’ve had the fortune of interning for The Provident Bank Foundation, a private nonprofit foundation located in New Jersey that taught me how business ethics, professionalism and passion all drive an individual's success in his or her career. My supervisors, Jane Kurek, Executive Director and Shaunna Murphy, Foundation Associate, who also became my mentors, opened my eyes to the not-for-profit sector in a way that has shaped my perspective not only on the nonprofit world, but the "real" world in general. Taking in a first-time intern like me, there is no doubt they had plenty to show me.

Jane and Shaunna welcomed me with enthusiasm and tons of different tasks. I was writing press releases, managing the Foundation database, and jumping right into grant application reviews. Before I could realize the impact this experience had on me, I was sealing letters of approval and delivering them to their recipients- making an impact that touched lives other than my own. I was truly humbled.

Overall, my experience gave me a few pointers about working for a foundation:

  1. Take advantage of your resources. Nonprofit work is all about networking. Talk to as many people as you can, exchange business cards, and reach out- you never know what someone can do for you or what you can do for them.
  2. Be curious. There is no such thing as a stupid question, but there is such thing as dumb silence. Do plenty of research because there is so much involved in funding besides wanting to help. Making an important decision requires doing a background check and asking all of the important questions.
  3. Prioritize. Being a funder requires a good multi-tasker and decision maker. Especially depending on the size of the foundation, reviewing applications and doing the research takes time. Meet the deadlines and stay organized.
  4. Be memorable, and remember everything. As said earlier, working for a not-for-profit comes with expanding your network of connections. As essential as it is to talk to everyone that you can, always remember who you're talking to, and make them remember you, too.
  5. Make sure it's something you're passionate about. This goes for any career you find yourself in, but in particular, if you find it rewarding to do good for others and be a community leader, then working for a nonprofit foundation might peak your interest.

"I am on the road to finding my niche. Trying something new has opened my eyes up to the endless opportunities that await." -Jenn Nativo