It’s no exaggeration to say the Greenville Chamber changed my life.
My first experience with Chamber programs was through Pulse Pacesetters. Pacesetters is a group mentoring program for young professionals, led by local members of the Greenville business community. I joined Pulse, applied for Pacesetters, and waited to receive my mentor assignment. At the first group meeting, I learned both of my mentors were entrepreneurs with a passion for helping young professionals. I also learned I was by far the oldest in my mentoring group, pushing the “Under 40” limit at the wise age of 35. Most of my fellow mentees were much younger in their careers and simply looking to get better connected in Greenville.
When I joined Pacesetters I was looking for career guidance, and a sounding board for my next step. I was at a place in my career where starting over wasn’t something I wanted to do, and I was having difficulty imagining exactly the role that would be my next step. Despite my trepidation at being seen as the “old lady” in my group, I jumped in with both feet. Our monthly meetings were the highlight of my month as I got to know my fellow mentees better and learned from some of Greenville’s most notable business and civic leaders, with personal introductions from my mentors.
My mentors always stressed they were available to us as a resource and willing to meet to help us with our career goals. As I faced a looming deadline of either leaving Greenville due to a mandated location change with my current employer or starting a very serious job search, I emailed my mentors and asked them to meet me for lunch, my treat. I’ll never forget sitting at that table at Luna Rosa and asking them “Do you think it’s a crazy idea for me to start my own company?” Not only did they not laugh at me, they partnered with me to help me develop a plan to create the financial stability I would need to set out on my own, and also to set reasonable goals for myself as a new business owner. My mentors arranged introductions and meet ups for me with other entrepreneurs who had done what I was considering. They suggested books and resources to answer my questions and prepare me for the wild ride that is entrepreneurship. Nearing the end of my year in Pacesetters, I celebrated in style by filing for my LLC and Narrative Strategic Communications was born.
Following my official Pacesetters term, I kept in touch with my mentors as a self-proclaimed alumni of the program. They were never more than an email or coffee break away, providing sound guidance and honest feedback as I navigated my first year as a small business owner. Now, as a business owner, I’m a Chamber Investor and beyond humbled to announce that I’m a member of Leadership Greenville’s Class 45. As I embark upon the Leadership Greenville journey, I cannot fathom the personal and professional growth I will experience. The Greenville Chamber has taken this Upstate native from employee to employer. As this article goes to print, my first full time employee is completing her move to Greenville and eager to attend her first Pulse event.
I’ll never forget walking into my first Pacesetters group meeting. I was expecting to make connections and explore new career opportunities. Instead, I was able to confidently take my future in my own hands, and now I am providing career opportunities for other young professionals.