By Kathleen Brough

As a new young professional in the field of Emergency Management, it can be intimidating. The field is so vast, and at the same time, it seems like everyone knows each other and has their niche. Mentorship has been studied at length and is known to be extremely beneficial, especially for young professionals. In recognition of this, OAEM has been running a mentorship program for the past four years, with a growing number of mentor/mentee pairs each year. Through this opportunity, I was matched with a professional in the field who has upwards of a decade of experience in Emergency Management.

            I’m already an involved member of the Emergency Management community. I’m a member of DEMSA (the Disaster and Emergency Management Student Association) at York University, and I’m also the student board member of OAEM. I was paired with someone I had met, someone who I respect for their constant efforts giving back to the program at York and to the community in general. She joked with me that I probably didn’t need a mentor, but that she was there for any questions I might have.

            Every mentor/mentee relationship is special and tailored to that pair. My mentor and I have spoken through email, we have also met up a few times when she invited me to networking events. She sends me emails checking in on me and reminding me that I’m doing exactly what I need to be doing – which as a stressed young professional, is always something I need to hear. Other mentor/mentee groups exchange emails or meet over coffee, it’s a flexible program that is meant to fill the needs of those involved. Both my mentor and I are social and busy people, this similarity works well for us to tailor our experience.

            Having a mentor means having someone you can reach out too. For me, my mentor is a go to when I have questions about a new experience, whether that be interviewing for jobs, going to a networking event or running for a new volunteer position. The mentor pairs were matched based on interests, experience and questions I had and I really feel like my mentor is a fantastic pairing for me. As a student, its easy to get overwhelmed and forget about why you’re doing what you’re doing. It’s been so reassuring and helpful to have someone checking in on me and reminding me not only that I can do it, but that I am doing good work.

            My mentor has been a part of the mentorship program for a while, and you can tell she loves giving back. She is warm and welcoming, she is an accomplished professional, and she has a passion for mentorship. In the brief time I have been involved in the mentorship program, I have already learned so much. I have someone to look up to and to take advice from, which shows me a path, but also how I can make my own path.

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