By Stephanie Love
Spark Mentor, TrueCar
Stephanie mentored Spark Student Adrianna and guided her through the creation of a Spark Project.
I met my mentee, Adrianna, at the school Match Day and we were both pretty shy meeting each other for the first time. She was very sweet, but avoided eye contact and said very little. We both didn’t know what to say or what to do, but we got through it.
Our second meeting was a totally different story! Adrianna came in, knew what she wanted to work on and the ideas came pouring out. After each idea, she would look at me with an “is that possible/ what do you think?” kind of look. I was quick to encourage, assuring her that our project could be about anything she wanted. Her confidence grew each time we met and by the end of our time together, we had created a project that even had me beaming. Adrianna still had her shy moments in the office and never felt very comfortable discussing her project with the other mentors. But, I saw such a difference in her at Share Your Spark (formerly Discovery Night), when she presented her final project! I had so many butterflies, but she was fearless. She stood up proudly explaining the features of her project and even gave me an eye roll when I tried to interject. The growth in confidence I saw in this young lady was monumental. It reminded me that we were all 14 once, navigating through the uncertainties of adolescence.
The time we spent together and the conversations we shared were the best part of the entire experience.
She wanted to create a video game, but was also really curious about becoming a detective and the CSI: Crime Scene Investigation tools she saw on TV. So, we created a video game crime/mystery app that came with a corresponding physical detective kit that had clues to link the two together. Such a brilliant idea from this girl!
This program not only helps students plan for their future by providing insight into different careers and work environments, it also gives them an outlet to talk about things that are important to them and a mentor who can open their eyes and minds to new opportunities.
Spark doesn’t only benefit the students. I never expected to learn as much as I did about helping bring an idea to life and working through all the roadblocks that arise when you’re dealing with a topic you know very little about. This offers a unique experience and variety to what you’re doing at work. My biggest takeaways from participating in Spark are remembering to never stop exploring and to never lose enthusiasm. These two things will always help me find meaning in the work I do.