Mentor Spotlight: Stephanie Kuhn
Today we're talking to Stephanie Kuhn, currently in Business Development at GreenPages Technology Solutions in Kittery, Maine.
Stephanie’s deep passion for personal connections drives the work she does. She started in the nonprofit space while attending UNH for the New Hampshire Women’s Foundation, and worked for Diageo as her first job.
Fun fact: You’ll often find her treasure hunting at thrift stores.
We chatted with Stephanie to discuss her experience with mentoring and how she approaches being a mentor.
Read the full spotlight below to learn more about Stephanie, her professional journey and why she Is excited to be part of our mentoring program!
Could you tell us a little about your career path and what brought you to your current work?
My career began when I started selling spirits part-time in my early 20’s. I had no idea what I wanted to do, so it was additional income and a chance to learn new skills - selling products and maintaining relationships. Gradually, I found myself selling spirits across New Hampshire and managing accounts in a full-time role. I loved the thrill and independence of sales, so I knew I wanted to pursue this avenue.
When I was looking to work in a new role and industry, I ran into fellow UNH grads at networking events in the seacoast. I found out about my current company at those events, GreenPages Technology Solutions, and landed my perfect role as a Business Development Representative. I recently celebrated one year here and I love that we never stop learning. I didn’t imagine myself in the tech world (ever), but I’m lucky to work in an industry that’s fast-paced, exciting and ever-evolving.
So how did you get into mentoring? How would you describe your approach, and what you try to achieve when working with mentees?
I got into mentoring when I got involved with the Connect Program at UNH. It was an opportunity to pass on the information I learned during my time there to incoming freshmen. Helping them was incredibly rewarding, so being involved in this type of program is fantastic.
My approach is being involved at the level the mentee is comfortable with. At UNH, some of my mentees were happy with fewer check-ins, while others I saw weekly and communicated with frequently. I asked what they were curious about and what they needed help with, while peppering in information about my experience and what insight I thought might be helpful. I’ve found applying these principles seems to work well, because they get value from our time and I get to see them learn and succeed, which is what makes my heart grow three sizes.
My favorite thing to do is connect these early dots for students and help them navigate a path to their end-goal. Being young career-wise, it’s great to have a mentee because you understand professional environments and you’ve experienced what they’re experiencing like, two seconds ago. It definitely feels good to help someone else out from your experience.
What’s the biggest buzz you’ve got during your time mentoring?
From my prior mentees, it’s been amazing seeing what they achieve in their professional lives. It’s strange when you realize that they, too, become adults and go on to do great things. In the current program, I get to apply what I’ve learned in my career and provide insight for today’s work culture and opportunities. Plus, I get to learn from someone with a completely different experience and background, so I’ve learned more than I could have ever anticipated!
What would you say that you get from mentoring, both personally and professionally?
Personally, I get to have the reward of helping someone else get closer to their goal. It’s the best feeling in the world. Professionally, I get to realize from a conversation what I’ve learned about being a young professional and helps me reflect in a way we don’t do often. Also, it’s another connection and builds a community.
One word -- verb, noun, adjective, adverb -- that describes a Mentor's role.
Are there any tips you’d give to new mentors who are unsure what they’re letting themselves in for?
Don’t be afraid to ask questions of your mentor. We don’t even realize how much we know until we start talking! Let them know what you’re interested in, what your passions are and what work you hate. We can help you find ways to incorporate hobbies and the type of work you want to do into a fulfilling life. The best thing we can do is feel like we’re helping you, so ask anything you want and let’s get you to where you want to go.
And how about mentees who’ve never experienced 1-on-1 mentoring before—do you have any advice on how they can approach the experience to get the maximum benefit from it?
Be open to the new experience, especially if you’re in a program. Share what you think is important to know about yourself and let us know what your goals are. If you aren’t in a program and want a mentor, find someone who you’re constantly going to for advice that you feel comfortable speaking with and you trust their insight. We’ve all had some excellent mentors in our lives, and the best thing we can do is pass on what they’ve taught us.
How do you think mentoring can help create an inclusive culture?
Mentoring is a fantastic way to cross cultural boundaries. In the Connect Program, all of my mentees came from different backgrounds and I learned so much about the world from them. With Diversify Thinking, same thing applies. I love having the opportunity to create more connections with people from around the world. If there were more opportunities to do this, I think it would greatly contribute to an inclusive culture.
Finally,… funniest story from your career so far?
Oddly enough, I’ve discovered from sitting with my coworkers that I hiccup at least once a day. There’s even a daily log of when my hiccups happen. There’s no rhyme or reason as far as our data shows, and it’s just one hiccup. I’m trying to identify other once-a-day hiccupers, if you know anyone. We’ll start a club :)
Want to know more about being a mentor or the power of inclusive mentoring?
Register here for our virtual Rise & Diversify event on April 22!