Connections — The Power of Mentoring Young Women
At Running Start, our trainings provide each young woman with the 3 C’s that prepare her to lead in politics: confidence, capabilities, and connections. That last C — connections — is why we have created the Running Start Network. More on that later, but first: here’s what mentorship through Running Start has meant for some of our amazing alums.
Ewurama Appiagyei-Dankah, Misaki Collins, and Tarina Ahuja have collectively participated in the following Running Start programs: Elect Her, High School Program, Congressional Fellowship, and Run with Running Start.
How has mentoring contributed to your success so far?
Ewurama Appiagyei-Dankah: “The mentorship of others has been crucial to me in my very nascent career. One of the most important mentoring relationships I have has helped me get an internship and my current job, and the relationships I have with peer mentors have helped me make many critical decisions in the confusing time period that is early adulthood.”
Misaki Collins: “I owe practically every single one of my successes to mentors that believed in me.”
Do you have any advice to other alums who might use the Running Start Network for mentoring purposes?
Ewurama: “Some of the best advice I’ve ever read about mentoring comes from Stacey Abrams, who said ‘What I learned early on is if someone said I want to help you, believe them. But I understood what they meant is help me help you.’ Running Start has ties to an array of amazing, accomplished people, and these people are participating in the Network because they are invested in cultivating young talent — so don’t be afraid to reach out to them, and help them help you!”
Misaki: “I would HIGHLY recommend for all alum to utilize the Running Start Network regardless of how they were previously involved in Running Start. Whether it was years ago that one week in high school or the Congressional Fellowship that got you involved, there is an entire network for women who are eager to empower you.”
Tarina Ahuja: “Mentoring has the capacity to inspire and instigate change in a young person. My mentors have opened doors for me and guided me in cultivating my passions. The Running Start Network is an incredible opportunity to meet and connect with phenomenal women. It has allowed me a portal into a world of movers, shakers, and changemakers that I aspire to be like.”
“Don’t be afraid to connect with and seek mentorship from people who may seem vastly different than you. Hearing from people with different lived experiences than you can be extremely valuable.”
Any other words of advice?
Ewurama: “Embrace the fact that there are many kinds of mentors you will form relationships with who each serve a specific and unique purpose. Some mentors will know you very intimately and offer you advice based on their closeness with you, and others are more high-level mentors who you connect with about a specific topic or for a specific ask. Both relationships are equally important in different ways and seek out mentors of each kind. Also, don’t be afraid to connect with and seek mentorship from people who may seem vastly different than you. Hearing from people with different lived experiences than you can be extremely valuable.”
Misaki: “I’ve been amazed by the network’s support for one another and how it truly transcends party lines, geographical distance, age, etc.”
Curious about the Running Start Network?
It’s a private Network of Running Start alums, mentors, and other friends intended to facilitate the kinds of relationships that help young women succeed in politics and beyond.
The Network makes it easy to create formal and informal mentoring relationships between younger peers and also between high-level advisors and younger Running Start alums. Simply search for users by name, location, area of interest, or another factor you find compelling — then send them a message to start the conversation. The Network is also where Running Start posts various resources and events, and where you can post jobs and other opportunities.
For those wondering if you have space in your life to start mentoring someone else, consider that investing in others’ development can lead to lower levels of stress for both mentors and mentees. The Network allows you to set your preferences so that others know what types of interactions you are open to, whether they be in-person meetups, phone calls, video chats, etc. Busy working professionals can take advantage of the Network by setting limits on the number of interactions you are able to have each month.
Organizational psychologist Adam Grant has said that the difference between a good mentor and a great mentor is that “A good mentor is someone who’s willing to meet with you and give you advice, but a great mentor is someone who recognizes that there’s no one person that could give you all the advice that you would need. So a great mentor is someone who would actually introduce you to other mentors and help you expand your network of advisors.” If you know others who would like to mentor young women on Running Start’s Network, send them a referral link!
“A great mentor is someone who would actually introduce you to other mentors and help you expand your network of advisors.”
If you are ready to support young women in their path to leadership in politics, join us on the Network!