By Vicki Ikeogu St. Cloud Times, Minn.
In a survey by the professional social media networking site LinkedIn, 82 percent of people said having a mentor is crucial to further one's professional development. But according to a 2013 study by the professional development company Levo League, 95 percent of women surveyed said they have never soughtout a professional mentor.
Business and community leaders in Central Minnesota are attempting to change those statistics by offering a morning event to helping young women network with seasoned professionals from a variety of industries.
Times Media, in conjunction with St. Cloud State University, St. Cloud Federal Credit Union, Marco Inc. and the Greater St. Cloud Development Corp., sponsored what they hope will become an annual mentoring event for women.
Mentor Morning, hosted on Tuesday at St. Cloud State, gave about 50 women the chance to meet with 30 community mentors from around the area.
"I'm looking to see what people do for mentoring," Schlenner Wenner & Co. manager Maria Schnabel said.
"And it's nice to have these lady mentors tell me what to look for in my next mentor."
KARE-TV news anchor and keynote speaker Diana Pierce kicked off the event with a brief conversation about the importance of finding a mentor.
"A mentor can really have a tremendous impact on your self-confidence," Pierce said. "You can overcome uncertainty on your own, but it will be much easier if you get an email from someone saying you can do it, especially if it is from someone you respect."
Pierce said she was mentored by her mother, Dorothy, who taught her how to take responsibility for her actions and plan for the future.
"She wanted to support me and my dreams and patiently listened to what I wanted," Pierce said.
Pierce told attendees to find a mentor who would listen and challenge them in ways they never thought possible.
"Ask your future mentor to ask you to reach for the stars as you reach for the world," Pierce said. Pierce's presentation was followed by an hour-long speed-dating style mentoring session. Participants had the opportunity to chat briefly with women mentors.
"I think it's such a fantastic opportunity," St. Cloud State Athletic Director Heather Weems said. "I've learned so much as a mentor. I've met some people and learned some things. And it's been fun."
Times Media Advertising Director Marilyn Birkland said she hopes Mentor Morning will become an annual event to help inspire and encourage young women to be successful.
"It is really important to recognize that all together we can make an impact," Birkland said.