Dear beloved mentor,
I’ve told you this countless times, but let me tell you again. Thank you.
Thank you for taking a chance on me. Me! A silly, inexperienced and overenthusiastic stranger you had no reason to bother with. You could have pushed me away, scoffed at my messages, dubbed me as pathetic. But you didn’t. How generous. How kind.
Thank you for opening that very long cold email I sent. For reading my random LinkedIn message. For inviting me out for that late-night meal to get to know me better (and paying for it, too!). For replying. For asking more questions. For staying curious. For saying “Yes!”, “Of course!”, “Anytime!”, “Happy to help!”, “Don’t hesitate to ask more questions!”
Thank the heavens for the myriad possibilities for human connection. For Facebook Messenger. For cellphones. For Skype! For template company emails, and the fact that I only had to try x permutations of your possible email address until I finally got the right one. For that new LinkedIn Career Advice feature that (thank the heavens!) matched us up. For that friend of a sister of a colleague of a roommate’s ex-boyfriend that connected us. For that party and that networking event. For your blog. Oh, that glorious blog. For that time I disappointed you, but you took me under your wing anyway and transformed my failure into an opportunity. For the quick coffee chats. For the long ones. For cafes. Oh, and have I mentioned Skype?
Thank you for honoring me with a challenge. For trusting me with it. I like a good problem that needs solving. Like that time you took me in as an intern in your 3-person startup, without so much as looking my resume. Or when you accepted me as the lead designer for the company’s entire software application, despite it being my first official stint at design. Or that time you let me own a presentation to the executive team of the company and handed it off with a, “You’re smart. I trust you.” Trust. What a strong word. I can only hope I lived up to your expectations.
Thank you for standing up for what you believe in. For fighting for humanity’s rights through influence. For being that woman role model the world needs more of. For scoffing at the stupidity of humanity and taking action on it. With your non-profits and foundations. With your inspiring speeches. With your sarcastic Tweets. With your fundraising efforts. With the communities you create. I hope you keep fighting.
Thank you for consoling. For lifting me up and showing me the flipside of my (now seemingly petty) tragedies. When I accumulated a hundred different job offer rejections. When my internship was cancelled two weeks before I was to start. When my first official job offer was rescinded. When the rescind of my offer was rescinded and I was very, very confused. Jeez. What would I have done without your help, without your messages of hope? Your “It’s okay Mika,” and “shit like this happens” and “it only adds to the story.” Your “I know you’ll make it through because… you’re you!” Your words. Your solace. Your trust in my resilience.
Thank you for your generosity. In your unselfish ways. For teaching me, and teaching others, without expecting anything in return. I am in awe with your kindness. I can only hope I can inspire others much like you have inspired me. As a way of passing on the baton. It is my ode to your being. It is the best way I can give back. I hope to keep your generosity alive.
Thank you for creating. For writing. For your books. For indirectly feeding me with bits of knowledge and experience I would not have otherwise known. For your words. For building. For building for others! And reminding me that praise and status and money is no where near the calibre of doing something of worth for the sake of others. I hope you keep creating.
Thank you for seeing my potential when I didn’t see it for myself. To others, I may have come off as one of those “too eager kids” trying to find a job. To you, my eagerness signalled a possibility for greatness. A young, hungry and determined fledgling, with the potential for success, smoothing her ruffled feathers, waiting to soar, if only someone listened. You listened.
Thank you for your bravery. Your tenacity in dealing with the ugliness of this world. Your resilience in the face of struggle. For taking risks, and making mistakes, and learning from those mistakes. You inspire me to work harder, be more, do more. I would not be here without you.
If you ever doubt yourself, if you question why you put yourself through these hard times, read this and remember: There’s at least one life you’re changing.
As always, do let me know if there is ever anything I can do for you. 🙂
Best, Mika, a grateful mentee
P.S. Special shoutouts!
To my mentor constants: Freddie (hello dad!), Jerome Uy, Makaela Kingsley, Earl Valencia, Paul Rivera, Michi Ferreol, Hong Qu
To my current and previous managers: Bai Chen, Kim Lembo, Mike Moskwinski
To my professors: Jon Bonin, Clara Wilkins, Jeffrey Naecker, Robert Kabackoff, Martin Perez, Liz Sagucio
To the generous Wes alums: Peter Frank, Alex Rosen, Lisa Sy
To my women in tech idols and indirect mentors: Bo Ren, Julie Zhuo, Tracy Chou, Sheryl Sandberg
To the ones who took a chance: Ashish, Partha, Derek Wong, Rohan Rajiv, Amy Schultz
To peers I consider mentors!!: Nina Domingo, Jaime Young, Pau Joquino, Alexis Collado, Erica Kok, Lance Katigbak, Andreas Galster, Jana Valencia, Natalie Gavello, Jacky Liang, Jennifer Li
To all the patient people who replied to my long emails and who continue to shower young ones with their generosity.
Salamat. Thank you.