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Learning that the best mentorships are a two-way street

August 11, 2021

Mentee Terron James and Mentor Pascale Ouellette

Terron James (left), Silviculture Technician, Greenmantle Forest Inc. and Pascale Ouellette (right), Outreach Coordinator, New Brunswick Invasive Species Council on one of their regular Zoom calls.

A Q&A with PLT Canada Green Jobs Mentee Terron James and Mentor Pascale Ouellette

PLT Canada’s Green Mentor Program connects youth (ages 18‑30) directly to forest and conservation sector professionals. The program uses an industry-leading platform with an algorithm that matches people based on personalities, learning styles, goals, locations, interests, and existing skills.

Together, our mentors and mentees work on goals that challenge them and help them grow based on shared and ever-changing perspectives. We nurture their relationships further by providing communication tips, networking advice, and problem-solving tools.

We caught up with Terron James after she won a draw for completing the PLT Canada Mentorship Survey. One of the first things she said was, “You have to talk to my awesome mentor, Pascale.” So we brought them together in this Q&A.

Q: You both presented the mentee-mentor relationship being like a two-way street. Can you give us some highlights of what you learned from each other?

T.J.: Pascale is only four years older than me, so we have a lot in common. She showed me that you can accomplish a lot in your twenties. Pascale is a big believer in clear communication. I was facing some challenges understanding the explanation of a new protocol at work. Pascale’s advice was to forget about solving things using email. Her advice to pick up the phone and arrange for a meeting turned out to be the best way to resolve things.

P.O.: It wasn’t that long ago that I was in Terron’s shoes making the transition from school to a career. Because she is just getting started, Terron looks at where she wants her career to take her in a planned, organized way. It was a good reminder for me to not just get caught up in the busy day-to-day of a job. I was reminded that everyone should have a medium- to long-term career plan to help guide decisions about staying in one job or pursuing another.

Q: Terron, work life can be challenging and stressful at times. How has Pascale helped you maintain your perspective?

T.J.: Pascale was laid off after funding dried up for a program she was running for Parks New Brunswick. I knew she would land on her feet, which she did in her new role with the New Brunswick Invasive Species Council. But I got to see firsthand how Pascale stayed focused on her career path and looking for a position that had an educational component. I will always remember her confidence and positivity and I know I’ll try to draw on that when I face those inevitable challenges that work life can throw at you.

Q: Pascale can you think of one piece of advice that you shared with Terron that applies to almost anyone starting out on their career path?

P.O.: Look for mentors wherever you can find them. The PLT Canada program is a great example of a formal mentorship. But there are people out there who can help your career in informal ways. I still consult one of my mentors from my time working at an NGO over two years ago. Staying in touch with her has helped me land interviews and given me the confidence to stick with my career goals.

Q: How important is it to schedule regular mentee-mentor contact? Or do you leave things pretty loose? 

T.J.: We book a regular chat on the phone or Zoom every two weeks and we also reach out to each other in between if something is up. I definitely think regular contact is key if you really want to make the most of your relationship.

Q: What role do you think the PLT Canada Mentorship Program can play in young peoples’ lives? 

P.O.: I wish the program existed when I was starting out a few years ago. It’s a great way to build a relationship and to get real opinions and perspectives. Plus, the matching tool is so good it felt like Terron and I were already old friends when we met.

T.J.: This program is super helpful. I would also encourage youth to check out the Green Jobs section of the PLT Canada website. It has so much to offer I almost feel guilty about not using it even more.

PLT Canada’s Green Jobs program is supported in large part by our employer networks at the Canadian Parks Council and the Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI). Check out PLT Canada’s Green Mentor Program and PLT Canada’s Green Jobs program. PLT Canada is an initiative of SFI.

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