ladder, mentorship

By Mikayla Mrochek

Climbing the job ladder comes with its pitfalls and successes, often taking more than determination to get to the next rung. Mentorship can provide valuable opportunities to learn, grow and cultivate talent in the workforce via the guidance of a more experienced colleague.


Latino Professionals Association of Greater Madison President Tania Ibarra says mentorship can provide three important benefits to career growth. “It allows people to envision career paths they may never have considered, access to a more mature and established network and consideration of opportunities that may not otherwise be considered,” Ibarra says.

Such practical tips provided in a professional context can be especially useful to underrepresented groups within a particular company or sector. “Having real world guidance and insight from an experienced and respected mentor is invaluable and equips the mentee with the competence and credibility they need to take on bigger roles,” says Lisa Peyton-Caire, assistant vice president of Life, Learning and Events at Summit Credit Union.

And for women and people of color, mentorship is, quite often, the key to increased confidence and job success. Ibarra says it’s key to develop the next generation of leaders and include them in a very important network.

“Women are great mentors overall but where we have opportunities to improve and move the needle in gender is in equity,” Ibarra says.


Ibarra also frequently advises mentees to ask questions and to have clear objectives. “Like the saying goes, no one can help you get anywhere if you don’t know where you are going,” Ibarra states. Not that one needs to know right away—but deciding on those goals helps communicate the targeted outcome in each mentor-mentee partnership.

Ibarra says that, as a mentor, she finds value in learning from new perspectives. Taking on a mentee can be helpful to one’s personal growth, as well as the growth of the company and community. Peyton-Caire echoes this sentiment. “I think mentors gain great satisfaction in knowing that our knowledge and experience is valuable to others, and that our investment of time and effort is building someone else’s personal and career success while supporting the organization’s success, too.”


Some organizations, like Big Brothers Big Sisters of Madison and the Urban League of Greater Madison Young Professionals, take it upon themselves to provide coaching and mentorship programs. Others require initiation by the individual seeking a mentoring opportunity. In either circumstance, Peyton-Caire emphasizes: “It all starts with relationships and genuine connections. An effective mentoring program has to be driven by a real commitment to inclusion, and led by folks who understand why this is important.”

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