Spotlight: Tyson Mao

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Personally, I haven’t received a lot of mentorship. Looking back on it, I think I ended up in the right place, but I certainly can’t help but feel that it was a bit lucky. With a bit more guidance I would have been more efficient in my career. With that being said, I think there’s certain lessons that someone just has to handle on their own. But yeah, I can’t help but think my career would have been a little bit more efficient.

The first part - which is the hard part - of being a mentor is trying to help your mentee match their career to their life goals. What is it that they value in life, and what are the ways to get it? You could go and try to figure out all this stuff yourself, but you might end up spending time doing things that aren’t necessarily conducive to your goal. The second part is once they know what they want to be doing, is how to actually go do it. The second part is more important for new college graduates because they don’t necessarily have enough data to make informed decisions on the first part. They don’t really need to know exactly what they want to get out of life yet, but we work together to keep their options open.

I can never tell the student what’s actually right or wrong for them, but I do have an extra 15 years of work experience. Because of this, there are certain facts that I can try to pass on to them. These can be helpful when evaluating if they’re really spending their time on the right project or goal, or if the path they’re going on is really going to make them happy. One of the benefits of the mentorship on Edith is it’s longer-term relationships, which really allow you to explore these more ambiguous ideas. Because if you’re sitting down for one conversation and you get some random advice, you really can’t (and shouldn’t) act on it.

There are certain interview questions - like how many golf balls can fit in a 747 plane - that can have a surprising amount of depth. No one really expects a college graduate to really dive deep [on these types of questions], but what if they could? Just think about how much you could stand out. Your ability to stand out gets harder in your career as problems become more complex and expectations are higher, but this is really where a mentor could help you.

Hear from other fellows and mentors


Chris Oryschak

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"For me, I really enjoy mentorship of early career people because I was there before. I think the point of mentorship is to give somebody context and viewpoints they don’t otherwise have access to."



Jeremy Navarro

Comparative Literature @Middlebury

"Tyson has been very helpful. He helps me sift through the noise and just focus on what I need to focus on. He also calls me out when I'm making a mistake - we've only been working together for a month, and I feel like I've already made a ton of progress."