The following is an excerpted conversation with the two partners.
Velma, how has having Jill as a mentor helped you?
Velma: Jill is someone outside of my teachers and other adults in my life whom I can go to, and she will listen without being biased. Jill is a great at giving me advice. It’s also nice to be able to tell Jill when I have an idea, and it’s great to actually tell Jill what I want to be and then get guidance about it. Right now, Jill and I mostly talk about college and career topics. Jill is awesome!
Jill, what do you offer to Velma?
Jill: What’s nice is that Velma really utilizes me as a resource. A lot of what we talk about now is college; Velma has her sights set on UCLA. I try to be a positive influence in her life by just listening. My goal is to give Velma unbiased feedback. I talk to her about her interests and listen to her ideas. Velma is smart and dedicated and can come up with the solutions on her own. When she wants advice, she asks.
Velma, has Jill given you a different perspective on the world of work?
Velma: I’ve gotten the chance to learn a lot about what Jill does. She travels a lot, which is exciting to me. Obviously, she gets to be creative. But she also has important projects with clients and has to meet deadlines and help the people that she manages meet deadlines. She’s told me the importance of being professional under pressure and about how you have to step out of your comfort zone to grow.
IBM Mentor Jill Sherman and Velma, an 11th grader at the Sarah E. Goode
STEM Academy, have been working together for three years.