To celebrate National Mentoring Month, Partner and Environmental Practice Chair, Alita Giuda, shares the importance of mentors in her life and why she mentors others.
Mentorship is important to me because I have personally experienced the significant benefits of it as a mentee and a mentor. From the early stages of my career, I have had a mentor and would not be where I am today, nor the attorney I am, without his and other mentors’ guidance. Adam Schultz, my predecessor at Couch White, was a steadfast mentoring resource from my first days as an attorney until his retirement. He had patience with me, gave me advice, even when it was not easy to give, and his advice has stuck with me and guides me to this day. I knew I could always count on him to support me and greatly appreciate what he did to help me in my career. I have had many other mentors that have provided guidance in my career, and their advice has similarly stayed with me and helped me grow as a professional.
As a result, I knew I wanted to be a resource for others and mentor so I could pay it forward and share the positive benefits with others. I spend time mentoring those early in their careers and strive to be a resource for them. I volunteer as a mentor with the Albany Law School Alumni Initiative in Mentoring program for first-year law students. This is a semester-long program where you are matched with a student, of a similar college or personal background to you where possible, to provide mentoring. Over the years I have participated, the students have come to me as often as they need and, depending on their needs, get feedback and support. I have found this experience to be rewarding to help first-years navigate their journey by listening to what is going on, giving them confidence in the choices they are making or encouraging them to try something different based on their interests. I have stayed connected with some students for much longer than the first year, and gained friendships through the process.
If you are looking for a mentor, my advice would be to find someone you trust and feel comfortable talking to, connect with them, then the rest happens organically. This can be someone at the workplace or in another setting outside work, the key is that you feel comfortable reaching out for guidance. If you are not sure where to start, look at your college or law school, or the Albany Business Review or Capital Region Chamber programs and events. I participated in the Capital Region Chamber’s Executive Mentorship Program as a mentee during a leadership transition in my career and I found it to be a wonderful resource. My mentor, Karen Carpenter Palumbo, provided me with excellent guidance and is still a sounding board, and a friend, for me today. This program connected me with a wonderful resource to help me with the professional growth I was seeking. It also helped me become a better leader by making sure I was providing my team with the right tools and then putting my trust in them to do the work.
I believe being a mentor or mentee is important to anyone’s professional growth. It is an outlet for both parties to bounce ideas off one another and help each other grow. If you do not have a mentor, now is the time to start the process. Make sure to get to know your mentor and don’t be afraid to ask the questions you have – we are here to help, and the more we know, the better we can guide you.