Updated: Dec 10, 2020
When our founders created Femstory and its mentorship program, they did it because they had the strong belief that through mentorship they could really help other women achieve anything. That is our mission, that is what we stand for, and that is what drives us every day.
We believe that mentorship can help young women find direction and confidence when starting their careers. It often happens that they feel lost, unsure and confused about what decisions are the right ones to take to achieve their goals. Having a mentor clears these questions up, it gives women perspective and the keys to overcome the challenges they face. Because there are challenges in everyone’s career, nobody said it would be easy, but unfortunately, still today is even more difficult for women.
Femstory's mentorship program aims to ease this topic while building a community that facilitates an open exchange of knowledge and experiences. We are convinced that every woman has an amazing story to tell, and today we're bringing you the first of our Femstories: Florentina Mender, who recently participated in the program and told us how it helped her and what it meant for her.
"When I heard about the program, I was sure I wanted to be part of Femstory"
Florentina Mender applied to the Femstory mentorship program because she thought a mentor could help her structure her future plans, but also because exchanging stories and experiences with other women inspires and empowers her: “I love to broaden my horizon through new conversations, discussions, and interacting with people. When I heard about the program, I was sure I wanted to be a part of Femstory”.
Florentina is currently studying for a Bachelor's degree in Politics and Economics at the University of Zurich. She is active in the university's economic association, where she is the editor of the online magazine. In addition to her studies, Florentina just launched a startup project to develop software helping companies use gender-sensitive and equal language. She only just started her career, but her willingness to make a positive impact in our society is already amazing, right?
Through our platform, she was matched with a mentor, Louisa Plasberg:“Louisa gave me great advice on the application process and was able to give me all sorts of tips concerning my career and academic choices. It helped me a lot to talk with her, as she was able to tell me about her experiences with internships, the things she learned in her first years after University, and which insights she has gained through her current work” she told us. Her mentor, Louisa, was key to help her to understand what type of Master and companies would be best to apply for internships.
“What if I end up taking the wrong decisions and never leaving my comfort zone”
But what Florentina thinks is the most important about having a mentor is that with their help all the possibilities faced can be narrowed down when deciding about the future. Decisions that can become even more overwhelming now that we are living in unprecedented times: “In this time of a global pandemic and international politics shifting in an unknown direction I have different kinds of fears. I have the fear of thinking about what impact social distancing, the lockdown and closed universities will have on my generation. But I also have fears concerning my own life. What if I end up taking the wrong decisions and never leaving my comfort zone?”
And this is the point when it comes key to have someone who understands you while having a broader perspective and experience of the world we live in. As Florentina explained to us:
“it is super helpful to hear about what other people have done and experienced in their life and also to get feedback on your own ideas and thoughts. For me especially it is important to have a mentor as she is a person I can contact for advice and exchanging thoughts.“
In addition to a mentor, it is fundamental to be surrounded by a community with role models that encourage, inspire and motivate us to really convince ourselves that we can achieve whatever goals we set for our own. And Florentina also felt it that way: “It would be difficult to choose just one woman that inspires me” says Florentina, “one of those is the author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. Through her talks and books, I was able to learn important lessons on life and she changed the way I look at many situations, in particular gender equality as well as racial inequality. What inspires me most is how her acceptance of reality showed her a way to make a difference in how reality will look for future generations.”
When asked about her future after making it through the program, Florentina has a clearer vision: “In 5 years I see myself with a completed Bachelor as well as Master degree, working as a consultant in the field of public affairs as well as running my own startup and still being part of Femstory – but then as a mentor”. And because of mentorship, she told us, she has become an even stronger woman we are extremely proud of:
“I have gained confidence in making decisions and then taking responsibilities for those decisions, which I think is an important lesson to learn”
Florentina is a clear example of what a young woman with a vision, motivation, hard work, and mentorship support can achieve. And she also takes what she learned from the program to empower others like her:
“When working or spending time with other women I try to emphasize their strengths and motivate them to speak up and share their ideas. I think most of us are not always aware of our talents and it helps to be reminded of what we are capable of and what difference we can make.”
Thanks for being part of Femstory Florentina, we cannot wait to see what is yet to come.