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April 29, 2014

The Importance of Mentors



Growing up, I would hang on every word my grandparents would say. "Traci, be an honest person with integrity." "Be confident." "Don't rush life." "Stay young while you can. Life is going to fly by so fast." "Set an example to others and be a leader, not a follower."


Of course, as a kid and even as a young adult, I didn't realize that those words of advice were all part of being mentored.


Mentoring is near and dear to my heart. I often sit back and wonder where my life and my career would have ended up without mentors. Mentors in my life were the people who truly cared about me as an individual. 


Just three months into my college career I quit school and got a quick reality check after I realized I needed a real job. Obviously, I had no idea which direction my career would take. But I saw an ad that intrigued me: Need outgoing, friendly CSR at Lakefront Airport. Please apply in person.


I will never forget pulling up to the hangar thinking, "Wow, I had no idea this place even existed." I walked into a group of 10 other applicants and heard my grandma's voice, "Be confident, Traci." Sue Sommers, who is now our VP of Sales and Marketing interviewed the group and offered me the position.


My first day on the job was extremely intimidating. I kept thinking, what in the world does Alpha Mike mean? From day one, Sue took me under her wing and told to me, "Just listen to what I say and watch how I act with customers." This was some of the best advice I have ever received. With Sue by my side, it didn't take long for me to realize that aviation was where I belonged. It just felt natural, like I was right at home.


Over the years, I have held several different positions, including general manager, but the one thing that has not changed is having mentors like Sue. Mentors allowed me to gain confidence and led me to realize that I could reach milestones I never thought were possible.


In speaking with some of my colleagues throughout Atlantic Aviation, it's astonishing how many of us look up to our leaders and have been brought up through the ranks with a mentor by our side. Recently, after one of our Atlantic Attitude classes, one of the employees approached me and said she was going to seek out a mentor and couldn't wait to grow with the company. She said I gave her hope!


One of my greatest accomplishments is to be able to take what I have learned from Sue over the past 25 years and become a mentor myself. What a great feeling to know that I have earned that type of respect from another person.


Guest post by Traci Fremin, Regional Sales Manager.