Connect and Collaborate: on the Meaning of Mentorship

March 7, 2022

Interview with Laura Hulberg

By: Rachel L. Richardson

“Don’t wait to do it,” Laura Hulberg says of participating in a mentoring relationship. “You have to make the time for your own personal growth, and, once you adjust, you’ll find it’s totally worth your while.”

Anybody can really benefit from this type of relationship, she believes, noting that it’s especially helpful for those new to the profession or company, or for those who might feel stuck.

Hulberg had been working as an analyst with Valbridge Property Advisors | Northern California for about six months before she heard about the Valbridge Women’s Council’s (VWC) One-on-One Mentorship Program. Open to all Valbridge employees through VWC membership, the program pairs professionals across the nation in a mentor-mentee relationship of a variable length depending on need. Mentorship support areas include career and professional development, property type expertise, litigation/expert witness work, management and/or leadership skills, technology, business development, data research/collection, candidate guidance, and more.

“It’s very flexible,” Hulberg remarks. “It’s very goal-oriented, and after that, it’s really up to you.”

For Hulberg, who was eager to meet people from other offices and hoped to hone some of her soft skills, it provided a great opportunity to connect and grow. She was paired with Michele Wood, whom she described as “a perfect match” because of the parallels between their job functions at the time, and the similarities in their personalities, goals, and stories.

Their year-long mentorship involved monthly meetings, focusing on short- and long-term goals Hulberg had emphasized—such as becoming a better analyst, maximizing the return on her time investments, and curbing habits that are inefficient or distracting.

Together, Hulberg says, they worked on goal setting and accountability, as well as how to navigate and negotiate problems so it’s a win-win for all involved. The mentorship has also helped her become more comfortable as a professional while learning to trust herself more—a challenging task as one of the younger people in the industry.

A valuable portion of their mentorship, she added, included reading and discussing Daring Greatly by Brené Brown. “The book is about vulnerability,” Hulberg shared, “and being willing to be vulnerable and be seen as your whole human self…It really changed my perspective on things and how I approach personal issues at work.”

Though it’s been about two years since their mentorship technically ended, “she’s still my mentor,” Hulberg says. “That’s the best thing about it.”

Hulberg encourages those who may have considered signing up to be a mentor, but haven’t yet, to remember “you have more experience and advice than you think.” This is a great way to give back, she adds, to honor the people who helped you along the way, and to help bring up the next generation.

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