How mentoring set me on my career path
June 17, 2019
When Adam signed up to be mentored through Out for Australia, he thought it was a great way to find out about the world of work and expand his network. He never expected it would lead to the start of his career with Accenture.
Since coming out as a gay man when I was 20, one of my personal goals has been to build my network. So, in 2016, when I heard about Out for Australia’s mentoring program for aspiring LGBTI professionals, I immediately applied.
I was disappointed not to be successful the first time but now I realise I was just waiting for the right mentor to come along. And she did! In 2018 I was paired with Sonya Goldenberg, Accenture's Co-Pride Leader for Australia and New Zealand.
In the first session, Sonya spoke about her career and her involvement in Accenture’s LGBTI community. She even gave me a tour of the office. We had regular catch ups every month or two, where she’d check in with me and see where my thinking was up to. Once, she brought me along to a Pride meeting – my first real foray into the corporate world!
I really enjoyed it. It was very casual. And most people were my age. Many of them were new to Accenture – and some hadn’t actually started yet. I felt they were in a similar boat to me. It made me feel a lot more comfortable about the idea of working at a big company and excited about being able to be myself at work.
Me in Peru – I strongly believe that it is important to travel the world and broaden your horizons.
Do I really want to work for an IT company?
I thought Accenture looked like a great place to work. And I was amazed by the support the LGBTI community receives. But I’d studied engineering and science – not information technology. I wasn’t sure I was suited to a career in IT.
But then Sonya described her role and explained how consulting works, and I realised my skill set would fit right in. I’d always thought consulting would give me a broad range of skills and alot of career options – I just didn’t realise there were so many opportunities outside the ‘Big 4’.
I’m absolutely loving it.
Immediately after orientation, I was parachuted straight into an agile team – working on a very high-profile project.
It was a bit wild at first. I spent the first three weeks trying to understand at a high level how all the systems work together. But now I’m delving into the technical stuff. I’m really enjoying the soft skills I’m learning as part of a collaborative, agile team. You can’t get this stuff from a book. It’s such a amazing feeling to be part of a team where everyone backs each other.
And, of course, the people aspect is great. There are networking events going on all the time. I go to at least one a week – some in the LGBTI community, others in my division and some with people from around the company.
I’ve made some great friends and some good contacts. And Sonya is still there – mentoring me and encouraging me to come along to things.
Everyone should have a mentor.
I believe everyone, no matter who they are or what field they’re in, should have a mentor. Even though Sonya wasn’t an engineer like me, her advice was so relevant. I got an invaluable sneak peak of what it’s like in the workforce. When you’re a student, you don’t really know how companies work – or even what different jobs entail.
Now I’m at work, I’m still looking for mentors. Sometimes, people who are closer to you in terms of seniority also have great advice because their experience is still fresh. So, look for a mentor at the same level as you – as well as more senior people.
If you’re still at university. My advice is to get as much experience of the world of work as possible – whether that’s through an internship or mentoring.
And don’t worry about landing your dream job first off. Some of my friends still don’t have jobs because they’re waiting for a specific role. When you do start a job it’s completely different to what you expected. You’re better off starting anywhere and learning along the way – even if part of what you learn is what you don’t want to do!
I feel incredibly lucky that, thanks to Sonya, I found my way into a job I love right away.
I can’t wait to see what comes next.
Sonya and I