The WICT New England Mentor Program officially kicked off at The Publick House in Sturbridge, MA on February 24, 2015. Anna Ciccone, Mentor Program Director, opened the event by discussing the recent re-design based on feedback from past program participants. The most notable change is the program will be reduced to 12 months from the previous 18 month pairing. For the upcoming year, there will be 32 mentor/protégé pairings. Our Chapter President, Holly Burgess, welcomed the nearly 50 people in attendance and the day was off and running!

After a delicious buffet lunch, Jodi Markley, Senior Vice President at ESPN, was introduced as the afternoon keynote speaker. During Jodi’s 26 years at ESPN, she has developed a passion for mentoring and the relationships that extend beyond the designated mentoring period. Jodi shared some of her experiences as a mentor and told everyone that “you get out, what you put in” and that all pairings should set expectations from the onset of the relationship. Jodi also said that a mentor can’t help the protégé with their goals if they don’t know what they are and she stressed the importance of open and honest communication. One thing Jodi looks for during the mentoring process is “does the protégé leave a lasting impression and would I recommend them for a job,” which are certainly key areas for the current mentors to think about in the year to come. Jodi shared one last thought with the room and it was the best advice one of her mentors had given her. The late Preston Davis from ABC gave Jodi unspoken advice because he was authentic and genuine and she strived to be like him in all interactions.

To round out the day, Josie Paruta, Associate Director Learning and Organizational Development at ESPN, conducted an ice-breaker activity followed by a breakout session for the mentoring partners. The ice-breaker session involved finding common interests with at least three WICT members outside of their mentor and protégé pairings. It was a perfect opportunity for everyone to move around the room, network and possibly step out of their comfort zone. After the ice-breaker, mentoring parings got together and set some of their partnership expectations.

Thank you to everyone who attended and helped make the kickoff event a success. We are excited about the months ahead and encourage and welcome your feedback.