by Rick Heath (Spring 2021 Mentor)
August 12th, 2021
Shortly after joining my current organization, Erickson Immigration Group (EIG), our CEO encouraged me to expand my leadership footprint beyond the firm and into the Greater Washington, DC community. The DC area offers so many outstanding professional associations, social clubs, and non-profits, but it was really important to me to find an opportunity where I could make a measurable and lasting impact in the community.
My friend, Chrissy Li, introduced me to StreetWise Partners after recruiting some highly qualified alumni to fill open positions at our firm. After researching the organization and talking to our employees who went through the program, I realized that StreetWise Partners aligned perfectly with my personal and professional values: equal access to resources and opportunities regardless of race, gender, orientation, or citizenship status; economic empowerment and upward mobility; the power of mentorship and coaching; and the importance of acquiring and refining practical skills. I applied for, and was accepted into, the Spring 2021 cycle as a mentor.
The next 13 weeks proved to be exceptionally rewarding – more than I could have even imagined. Witnessing my mentee’s rapid professional growth and burgeoning confidence – culminating in her landing a new job – was a beautiful thing! Seeing and participating in the other mentees’ journeys and successes was equally amazing. When people talk of volunteering as “giving back,” they often ignore how much there is to be gained. The StreetWise experience deeply enriched my life and provided me with meaningful and tangible benefits. I met some incredible people who are now friends, expanded my professional network with fellow mentors and mentees , and learned new strategies for coaching my own team.
The past 18 months has been hard on so many people, especially members of the workforce who may have missed out on opportunities for professional development, on-the-job training, and career advancement. StreetWise tackles this issue head-on with seriousness and dignity. The organization’s goal is clear: provide unemployed and underemployed mentees with the skills, resources, and access to networks they need to secure and maintain employment. The results are also clear: StreetWise graduates are desirable and marketable employees, as EIG has hired 7 alumni in the past year and they are thriving in their roles!
Mentorship is vital to everyone’s professional journey. I have been fortunate to have managers, coaches, and colleagues who have challenged me during my career, and I am so grateful to pay it forward through the StreetWise Partners program. I encourage anyone who is interested to join us.