Your Rockstar coaches help you wade through the stress and expectations of academic life, and impart the skills you need to thrive in your careers and beyond. Through the Grad School Rockstars community, they help you become your best self. So why not get to know them a little better? You’ve already heard from Cathy Hannabach, Kate Drabinski, and Terry Park about carving your unique path, the value of collaboration, and the power of good listening skills. This week, Julia Jordan-Zachery shares how she helps mentees identify what they really need, find their truths, and stay true to who they are regardless of their geographic location.

What does mentoring mean to you?

Mentoring is a reciprocal relationship based on mutual trust and openness. As a mentor, my ‘job’ is not to change the mentee but to honor them where they are. Even more importantly, I have to help them find their truth. As a mentee, I have to reach out, not simply when I need help, but to share my experiences along the way. That’s how we build reciprocity.

What advice do you wish you’d received as a grad student?

That I should create a network with which to share my work, regardless of the stage of development.

What is your favorite way to build community?

I have found that it’s best to have communities—spiritual, intellectual, etc., We do this by being open to possibilities and not being to quick to retreat. We need community to thrive. The challenge is to ask and answer honestly: what are you seeking and why? I have found that virtual community is wonderful, but there is nothing better than being able to meet in the flesh. So I work through whatever is holding me back from being vulnerable to reach out to folk at different local institutions.  Sometimes it takes multiple tries to connect and sometimes my efforts don’t pay off. But the time spent sending the email is always worth it. So my favorite way to build community is to allow myself to experience the vulnerability of trying.

What has your career journey looked like?

A long and twisted road. My career journey has has some predictability, a lot of unpredictability, and (ultimately) flexibility. I’ve had to realize that where I am in the moment is not necessarily where I will end up and to not let go of my core values along this journey. My career anchor rests in me always being honest about who I am and what I want regardless of my physical location—which is often temporary.

What do you love most about being a Grad School Rockstars coach?

What I love most is the opportunity to learn, to experiment, and to actually implement what I’m asking others to do. I like that I can share with graduate students what other have so beautifully and unselfishly shared with me, knowing that at some point they will give these knowledges to others. So coaching is never about me, the individual, it is about the community we are striving to build.

What makes you feel confident?

My honesty. Regardless of what I’m experiencing, I’m always grounded in my truth. This gives me a sense of confidence.

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