“Mentorship is not just about sharing your experience and telling the other person what to do. It’s a better dynamic when the mentor is also paying attention and learning from the mentee on a peer level.”Lilian Phung
Lilian Phung has a unique reason for entering the world of mentorship. After moving to the United States from Vietnam as a child, Lilian grew up struggling to navigate between two different cultures — one as a daughter of Vietnamese and Chinese parents and another as a student in the American school system. This conflict later carried over into the professional world as Lilian grew older. As the first person in her household to enter the corporate workforce, Lilian didn’t have many people in her life who she could turn to for professional advice. This is partly what inspired her to volunteer as a mentor with organizations like APIA (Asian and Pacific Islander American) Scholars and AAPA (Asian American Professional Association). Throughout the past five years, Lilian has dedicated her time to helping students and professionals develop their careers as both a leadership coach and mentor who specializes in self-development and building communities, while continuing to expand her skill in mentoring, coaching, and different areas in the human resources field.
We sat down with Lilian to gather her thoughts on the role of mentorship in the modern workplace. Here are some highlights:
Q: How would you describe your approach to mentorship?
“The way I approach mentorship is I incorporate coaching into it where I don’t just give advice, but also ask my mentees questions that help them think through what it is they’re looking for, because I think that we don’t get that enough today. We’re not taught how to think, we’re told what to think. And so it’s a little bit of an adjustment, but it’s really beneficial for mentees as they continue to go through their professional track.”
Q: How has mentorship had an impact on your life and career?
“Professionally, I would say mentorship ties me to being more patient and empathetic, so it helps me grow that way. But I think for me, the real reward is that it takes me back to when I was growing up and keeps me humble. One of the things I do on top of my regular job is I am a scholarship reader with APIA Scholars, where I basically just read scholarship applications from highschool and college students. And the stories and challenges that they share really takes me back to my beginning and reminds me of how far I’ve come.”
Q: What role do you think mentorship plays in helping to solve some of the bigger issues present in the workplace today (i.e. inequality, underserved minority groups, etc.)?
“I’ve seen a shift in the mentoring relationship lately where it’s now a combination between mentoring and leadership. What that means to me is people are looking for someone who will give advice and recommendations, but also models behaviors to really lead the way and show the next generation not just what tends to work, but also what you can do to be innovative and creative…And so when we work collaboratively together, I believe that’s where we can design better solutions to address what’s happening right now in the real world.”
If you want to get mentored by Lilian, click here to apply and sign up with LevelNext today.