Volunteer Spotlight: Susan Thompson

susan thompson optum

We are excited to kick off 2021 with January as National Mentoring Month! BestPrep’s Communications Intern, Keagan Eng, spoke with BestPrep eMentor Susan Thompson about her mentorship experiences. Susan is a Project Manager for Optum, a division of UnitedHealth Group and also happens to be a BestPrep Minnesota Business Venture alum! Susan shared her takeaways from mentoring through BestPrep.

Q: How long have you been mentoring for BestPrep?

A: I started during the fall session of 2019 and have since become an eMentors Company Coordinator as well.

Q: What made you want to become a BestPrep mentor?

A: I was lucky enough to have my mom sign me up for BestPrep’s Minnesota Business Venture (MBV) program when I was a junior in high school. I had no idea what to expect, but I ended up loving it!  The next summer I came back as a camp counselor, and now I participate in MBV as a Residential Business Leader. I have always loved BestPrep’s mission. When I happened to walk by an eMentors flyer in the hallway at work, I immediately signed up!

Q: What are some things you hope your mentees learn?

A: I always want the students to know that they have so many opportunities and can choose any path if they start taking important steps now.  Not every student I have mentored has wanted to go into business, but by the end of the mentorship I want them to know that soft skills and drive can get them further in any career.

Q: How has the current pandemic affected your mentoring experiences?

A: While the pandemic has stopped my mentee and me from meeting in person, we were able to broaden the opportunity to my coworkers outside of Minnesota.  The pandemic has also encouraged meeting online via video calls, so my mentee and I met virtually with a Data Scientist working in South Carolina – something we otherwise would not have done if the pandemic hadn’t forced us to get creative.

Q: Why do you believe mentorship is a valuable experience?

A: I am a strong believer that mentorship and networking are extremely valuable.  I gained a great mentor during a summer internship at Medtronic through networking, and they extended a job offer. During my summer interning, I networked with at least one person every week. This broadened my network so quickly and gave me so many opportunities. Everyone can benefit from being a mentor or a mentee.  No matter which field you go into, a foundation and network are extremely important to help find your way.

Q: What is your advice for graduating high school students looking to attend college or enter the workforce soon?

A: You do not need to know everything or be perfect right away!  It takes time to become an expert in your field, so there is no need to compare yourself to coworkers who have more years of experience than you. Set goals to gain knowledge and skills in baby steps and over time you will be proficient. What matters most is your enthusiasm for the work and how fast you can learn.  Managers can teach you skills after being hired, but they cannot change your attitude and how you fit in with the company culture.

 

We are so grateful for everything Susan has done for BestPrep. Make sure to thank your mentor/mentee the next time you meet! If you have a mentoring story you’d like to share, post on social media using the hashtag #BestPrepMentors and tag BestPrep. Happy National Mentoring Month!