We are nearing the end of the year, a time of reflection and finding perspective. Let’s see how Verena Schrama, one of our mentees, is doing in our Mentorship Programme!
Verena (23) is currently finishing up her Master’s degree in Complex Systems Engineering and Management. She is also working as an intern at tech startup COUNCYL. Her dream is to find the point where humanity and technology cross, and help society with infrastructures that accomplish this. As she nears the final stage of her studies, Verena is exploring the different options for her career. “I am really enjoying my time working at a startup, but I am also drawn to consultancy and larger, more established companies.. In a sea of opportunities it is easy to get overwhelmed and overlook what type of environment would actually suit me.”
Rina Joosten-Rabou, Verena’s mentor, happened to have similar drives and professional values. She started working in a corporate environment and now has her own tech scale-up, Seedlink, which uses A.I and Natural Language Processing to analyze customers’ communication styles, helping them get to know their corporate personality and support better candidate matchmaking. “ We value some of the same things in a professional environment, so we understand each other’s choices and relate to each other’s dilemma’s.” Rina also recommended The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success, a book that advises listening to your body when facing a difficult decision. Verena explains that she usually lets rationality lead the decision making.
Still, checking in with how you feel about your choices can be very powerful. It can help you find the right opportunities to focus on, and what to prioritize.
“It may sound a bit floaty, but that’s how it worked out for me with COUNCYL as well. I was in the middle of the application process for two other opportunities when they offered me the internship. I accepted within a second, because it just felt right.”
Tuning in to herself also helped Verena explore her leadership capacities when she was team captain at YAG. She decided to remain in the background while motivating others in their pursuits with her enthusiasm, leaving them their autonomy. More subtle direction and support is something she prefers herself, and it was well received by her team as well! “Rina and I talked about nature seeking the path of least resistance, so if something just won’t work out, that may just be the wrong path, and you should take a step back to re-evaluate.”
Verena has indeed been re-evaluating her own future. Half a year ago, she aspired to be a consultant, but now she realizes that she values working for a united purpose, service or product, as team spirit truly motivates her. She also hopes to have more autonomy and opportunities to shape processes herself within a smaller or younger organization, as their norms are not set in stone yet. “And,” Verena adds, “You get to build something tangible for society.” Her conversations with her mentor help her explore the different options. Rina pointed out that there are also startups that provide applicable technology to larger corporations. Larger companies may also have spin-off businesses with all the benefits and security of a well-established organization and all the flexibility and innovation of a startup. Either way, Verena is determined to weigh the options by her own core values.
Besides her weekly conversations with Rina, Verena also partakes in the workshops with other mentees and mentors. “We don’t just relate and help solve each other’s struggles, we also hold each other accountable. The group really provides a platform that has others asking for follow-ups on what you’ve been working on, which is a real motivating factor.” The “Who are you” workshop also highlighted how we should unify ourselves with the opportunities we come across. “One of the mentees recalled that she presented herself very differently to make herself fit better into the company’s culture. We all share that urge to prove ourselves, it’s very human, but we should remember that what we want is also worth something!” The mentors advised them to stop being held back by unnecessary humility: You are capable and have valuable things to say. This confidence can help fight that urge to push yourself into the mold you think a potential employer wants: After all, they should be happy to have you.
“That’s the value of the network: You start with yourself and your peers, you look inward at what you can bring to the table before you look outward at what companies are asking.”
The Librae Circle of mentees has been meeting up consistently for masterclasses and more informal discussions to support and help each other out. Another version of the mentorship programme will launch in February, so keep an eye on our channels if you’re interested in joining and developing your career roadmap as well as yourself alongside a seasoned professional!