HINDSIGHT IS 20/20: 2015 – 2016 Fellowship Lessons Learned

Mentoring & Networking

Take the Lead

  • It can be a bit nerve-wracking to take an active role in communicating with your mentor, but it is important to know that the onus is on the Fellow to reach out. This relationship will be what you make it! Mentors are not only great resources, they are here to support you as you navigate through your career into leadership roles. It is a great exercise in building relationships, and an opportunity to share and learn from the experiences of others in the field.

Time Management & Administration


  • Of course you want to take advantage of it all. There are so many unique opportunities that will come your way and with amazing people, but you cannot possibly do them all. You have a life and probably a job on top of this – be patient with yourself. Sometimes you will have to say no.
  • On the flip-side, sometimes you have to make time. The culture of “busy” is all around us. Somewhere it has been said “busy” is the new “nice”. Here’s the truth: we’re all busy. We’re driven working professionals who want to become leaders in our industry. The Fellowship program is intensive, it is a lot of work, but it is work that will expand your mind, and maybe even your soul.
  • The solution? Plan ahead! Pick a few events to go to per quarter and plan your schedule accordingly. You could use the Learning Contract as a tool for planning ahead. Leave some room for improvisation.

Plan for the Unplanned

“To expect the unexpected shows a thoroughly modern intellect.” – Oscar Wilde

  • Give yourself, what we in project management call a buffer. Buffers are extra time you give yourself to complete things so that your deadline can be met. So push that deadline 2 weeks ahead, and BAM! You’ve got a 2 week buffer!
  • You never know what is going to happen in life, so sometimes you’ll just have to go with the flow… but you can have contingencies in place to help make all the moving parts more manageable. Always communicate changes to your mentor and the program supervisor, keeping them up-to-date.
  • Break it up! Building on the idea of having a contingency plan, if you break up the Fellowship into monthly activity lists (including your project), then not only will it seem less daunting, but it will also allow you the flexibility to adapt with new learnings and life events that come up without getting in the way of you completing the program. The project deadline creeps up quite ferociously!
    • Start your research early.
    • Create an outline and break it up, so you’re doing a little bit at a time.

Track Everything!

  • You will have to do this at the end of the program anyways, so you might as well do it as you go along. Again, the Learning Contract is a great tool to use for your tracking, especially as you will have to submit it at the end of the program.
  • Track:
    • When you meet your mentor (exact dates)
    • Save your certificates of completion for courses such as the Fundamentals of Fundraising
    • What webinars you attend
    • Your contributions to information exchange
    • Take photos of your Facebook/Twitter comments and feeds

Perspective & Transformation

Keep an Open Mind

  • Diversity and inclusion are buzz words across every industry at the moment, and yet they carry different meanings and weights for different people. Throughout this Fellowship, what you think you know may be challenged. Be open to being part of a much larger dialogue. Be open to uncomfortable conversations and fresh perspectives. It may sound a little hokey, but the process may help you reach new understandings and open you to different experiences.