Girls Take Charge participates in the local Bizwomen Mentoring Monday event, hosted by the Albany Business Review

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February 2020 Mentoring Monday Event

Anna Ryu, Editor-in-Chief

On Monday, February 22, members from Shaker’s Girls Take Charge club attended the 8th annual Bizwomen Mentoring Monday—a local networking event that brings together women in leadership positions from across the Capital Region. 

This is Shaker’s third year participating in the event, bringing students from Business classes and Girls Take Charge to both observe and participate in the event’s activities. 

In a non-COVID year, the event includes a panel discussion, one-on-one “speed mentoring” sessions, and interviews of individual mentors specifically for an audience of Shaker students. The field trip usually takes place during the first half of the school day, as students travel to the event venue (a spacious hotel conference area and Siena College, in previous years) for the 2-3 hour event and return just in time for lunch. 

This year, the event was hosted virtually through Zoom during the block of morning classes. Over 100 women joined the call, including the 32 mentors, Girls Take Charge members, and dozens of other women (“mentees”) seeking life and career advice. Due to the unique circumstances, regular activities were morphed into several sessions of “speed mentoring” for pairs and small groups of mentees. For 15 minute periods, mentees asked questions and listened to responses from the mentors in separate breakout rooms.

Lauren Beshaw is a senior at Shaker and an officer in Girls Take Charge. She has played an instrumental role in coordinating Shaker’s involvement in the local business event, staying in contact with the Albany Business Review and passing along necessary information to the Shaker clubs involved. 

“After attending the event (and loving it) as a sophomore, I reached out to the publisher and the events director of the paper. They are both wonderful and have been super enthusiastic and supportive of opening Mentoring Monday to high school students,” Lauren writes, describing what it has been like to communicate with the Albany Business Review.

So far, Shaker has been the only high school invited to the local event. Lauren hopes that Mentoring Monday opens to more high schools—possibly a goal for Girls Take Charge to tackle in the future. 

“If more high school students attend, not only will the event become more diverse, but connections between students from different schools might arise, which would be really great.”

Fortunately, Lauren says working on the event this year was “a pretty straightforward process, even during COVID,” since they had previous years of involvement and organization to go off of. 

 

What Mentoring Monday has given to Shaker students

Beyond organizing Shaker’s involvement in the event, Lauren simply loves being a participant in it each year. She says that one of the most meaningful aspects of Mentoring Monday has been meeting women who have found success in less conventional careers. 

High school is often a difficult and awkward period of growth and learning when students begin thinking about the future without having a real idea of what it might look like. The pool of potential career opportunities seems to have unchanging boundaries and clear-cut categories, and many students eagerly try to find a place for themselves in seemingly straightforward paths. 

Lauren says she has enjoyed hearing from women who’ve forged forward and found success in their own unique journeys. Often winding and perfectly imperfect, their experiences are reassuring stories to hear as a high schooler. Now, as a senior, she also finds it’s “great to network with a variety of women, and hear advice about college.”

Shaker senior, Anavi Parikh, has also attended the event in previous years, making this one her last. Though this year’s Mentoring Monday was “entirely different” from her first experience, she found it “equally as inspiring.”

The smaller breakout rooms from this year’s virtual event gave participants—both mentors and mentees—“a chance to truly engage and learn from each other,” Anavi says. “As a high school student, I learned from not only the mentors, but also from both my fellow mentees who were at different places in their post-college careers.”

This year’s Mentoring Monday certainly looked very different for the local businesswomen and the Shaker student participants. But flexible adaptations from the Albany Business Review, swift organization with Girls Take Charge, and cooperative collaboration from all participants created a new experience that brought unanticipated positives and opportunities.

Anavi reflects, “This year’s session was ironically the most personal one yet, with invaluable conversation and advice to remember.”