All Aboard the Mentorship
Paying it forward pays off, year round.
Kiwanis Jones was upset.
She was an Underwriting Service Assistant at State Farm® and while she enjoyed her job, she had her eye on another position. She applied, but didn’t get it.
“I was pretty upset about it,” she remembered. “I wanted to figure out what I needed to do to get that job the next time around, but I didn’t know how to go about it. I felt like I needed someone to talk to.”
She needed somebody to help navigate her way around the organization, somebody to give advice, somebody to answer questions and sound ideas off of.
“What I needed,” Kiwanis said, “was a mentor.”
Getting Connected with Mrs. Pat
Giving advice, paying it forward and being a good neighbor are what mentoring (and State Farm!) is all about. State Farm places a lot of importance on mentorship and provides employees plenty of opportunities to connect and learn from each other.
Kiwanis got on the Mentor/Mentee Matching Tool, one of many services offered by State Farm that helps connect people who want to learn with people who want to share what they’ve learned. She signed up, and that’s how she met Mrs. Pat.
“Mrs. Pat” is Pat Goodwin-Taylor, an Administrative Services Manager. She’s been all over State Farm over the course of her 32-year career, including stops in Claims, Purchasing, Creative Services, Public Affairs and Underwriting.
“I’ve learned a lot being here, and if there’s anything I can share that can help somebody get to where they want to be, I’m going to,” Pat said.
When she first met with Pat, Kiwanis shared her disappointment about not getting the job she wanted. Instead of just providing encouraging words and interviewing tips, Pat started asking questions of her own.
“I wanted to know where she wanted to be,” said Pat. “Not just here at State Farm, but in life.
“You’ve got to know where you want to be before you think about how you’re going to get there.”
Things are What You Make of Them
Through their conversations, Pat shared some of the knowledge she’s picked up over the years, but it became clear early on that this relationship wasn’t just a one-way street.
“She pushes me,” said Kiwanis. “She said, ‘If you want me to mentor you, you’re going to have to do some work.’”
And do some work she did.
Through Pat’s encouragement, Kiwanis signed up for some classes offered through Degreed, an online educational platform offered to all State Farm employees. Kiwanis is currently taking insurance designation courses that will help increase her business acumen. She’s also taking some college courses and hopes to get her degree.
“This is something I’ve always wanted to do and thanks to Pat, I’m on my way to doing it.”
A Virtuous Cycle
Pat says her love of mentoring started when she got some good advice early on in her career from one of her mentors.
“I had a job offer that I wasn’t too excited about. My mentor at the time sat me down and told me why this was a good opportunity and how by taking this role, I’d be putting myself in a great position going forward.” Pat ended up loving her new role and credits her mentor for helping her out early on. “That advice really set me on a great path, so when I got the opportunity to do the same for somebody else, I jumped on it.”
Being a mentor isn’t something Pat takes lightly, and neither does John Quimby. John’s a Property Claims manager who’s been both mentor and mentee over his 30-year career.
“I’ve been on both sides of it,” John said. “And I’ve gotten just as much out of giving advice as I have getting advice.”
John says mentoring people is one of the most rewarding things he does in his professional life. “Don’t get me wrong, I love a good email and conference call as much as the next guy,” John joked. “But if you can actually help somebody with their career? That’s huge.”
Mentoring is such an important part of the culture, State Farm even offers courses on how to be a good mentor. “We’re excited to spotlight some learning resources to help,” said Learning Director Michael Gardner.
“We know that learning through others is among the most effective ways to build new skills – and mentoring is itself a skill that takes some practice to do well,” Michael said. “The beauty of mentoring is that it’s a virtuous cycle that builds skills and grows relationships for everyone involved.”