Mentorship 101: a summer intern’s perspective.
Most people believe that the right mentor or life experience has the power to shape a career. Is that still true in today’s work environment?
For young professionals, the personal bravery required to start a career traditionally stems from inspiring mentors or formative life experience. Yet in our current moment of remote work and future uncertainty, this framework has undergone a sudden shift. How do young professionals seek guidance amidst the complexities of today’s working environment? Have mentorship opportunities increased or decreased in a virtual world? To answer these questions — and many more — copywriter Charlie Kamper interviewed our summer intern Chris Ekpiken about his internship experience and the state of his budding career.
Why did you pursue this internship?
I looked at a lot of other job positions, but Phire Group was the best fit. It was the most dynamic position that I could find. Plus, I had heard about Phire before, and I had planned on trying to work here at some point.
How did the virtual work environment impact your internship experience?
It was interesting. On occasion, it felt like I was in an isolated bubble, but there were also moments of genuine connection with my coworkers. I think there’s inevitably a layer of confusion with virtual work because it’s hard to separate the physical job and life outside of the job.
Who would you describe as a mentor in your life?
My dad. He’s following the path that I want to pursue, but later in his life. On a whim, he quit his job and went into real estate and runs a foreign car repair business. His path has given me the mindset to think about my future productively.
Did you find any mentors in this experience?
Alex, Maria, and Grace come to mind. Alex goes above and beyond in his work, which was inspiring. Maria was always willing to guide me in aspects of marketing that I hadn’t previously considered. Grace puts out high-quality work, no matter when things don’t go to plan. She also pushed me to leave my comfort zone on a few projects.
How has mentorship impacted your career exploration?
While no one necessarily introduced me directly to graphic design, video production, or marketing, there have certainly been people in those positions who wanted to guide me. And I think it all comes back to my dad. I’ve always wanted to be comfortable and content with my financial situation, and I’ve seen the trickle-down effect of how a lack of financial security can impact every aspect of your life.
Despite the virtual world we live in, describe your process for seeking mentors who can guide your career exploration. Has the virtual world made this process more challenging?
I think the virtual world has made the mentor-seeking process a little more challenging. Natural conversations are hard to come by, and the organic relationship building that occurs in person just doesn’t occur in a virtual space. However, if you reach out to people and pursue opportunities, it doesn’t matter how relationships are built. You’ll always learn something new about a person through a conversation, regardless of how it transpires.
How do you view the mentors who work in this industry, particularly after your internship experience?
The mentors I met during this internship have made me much more confident to do the work that will build my own career. There’s a misconception that the people who work in this space are obsessed with trying to convince consumers to buy things. In reality, you have really creative people who genuinely care about high-quality work that makes an impact. Sticking with your values is what pays off in the end.