Last week, I graduated – my second graduation this year, I’ll add – from the Vancouver board of trade’s leaders of tomorrow mentorship program.

Open to post-secondary students in their final year of study, the program pairs participants with a board of trade member who shares similar professional or personal interests. It also gets you networking at events, volunteering in the Vancouver community and honing leadership skills.

I was nervous when I first joined. Thrilled, but nervous. About 50 per cent make the cut and not only that, but I got chosen for my volunteer committee of choice. Good signs. But not having the backing of a business background was threatening, and learning I was to be mentored by a marketing pro was a minor disappointment. Print is dying, they say. No jobs in journalism, they add. I wanted someone in my industry to tell me otherwise, or at least tell me how “they” didn’t apply to me.

I felt like the awkward, lanky girl, nobody wanted to dance with; the kid with two left feet and half-inch thick glasses chosen last for the dodgeball team. LOT orientation night about a year ago saw me wandering around, anxious, desperate, looking for my mentor.

I found out at the end of the night I was neither the awkward girl or the scrawny mathlete: I was the girlfriend who didn’t even know she’d been dumped. But I had, in fact, been dumped.

Whatever it was – fate, karma, kismet, act of God – my second mentor was the editor of Business in Vancouver. And with her help, I’ve connected with true blue foreign correspondents, authors of books I’ve read, editors, journalists and some fascinating people. I’ve had my first freelance (and paid-for) article published, with several more in the works. I started learning Arabic, and I developed a plan for how to get to where I would like to be professionally.

It has been an incredible year, and one I will be looking back on for years to come – for guidance, for reflection, for perspective. I’m also thrilled to have been selected to sit on the LOT program advisory committee. The chance gives me a second year to be part of a life-changing, life-lifting program.

As I graduate from being a student with the board of trade, to a Company of Young Professionals member, I look forward to more opportunities, more goal-achieving and goal-setting, more events and networking, and ultimately, more confidence-building.

For a year-end wrap-up video – which was played at the LOT graduation evening, go here. Yours truly has the pleasure of being in the still frame for the video’s thumbnail, mid-speech. I also share part of what made this past year so spectacular..

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