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‘I’m just here for her.’ York College alum shares advice and mistakes with mentee

May 14, 2019
Hayley Althoff and Ivy Buchan
(L to R): Hayley Althoff '19 and Ivy Buchan '04

Over the course of an hour in a bustling Harrisburg restaurant earlier this year, Hayley Althoff and Ivy Buchan picked apart Hayley’s resume.

They went over it, line by painstaking line, talking about what worked and what didn’t.

Ivy isn’t a life coach or a tutor, but she knows what it’s like to be in Hayley’s position: about to graduate from York College of Pennsylvania and step out into the unknown — the real world.

That’s why Ivy, who graduated from York College in 2004, agreed to become Hayley’s mentor through a program with the York College Alumni Association.

“I don’t refer to her as my mentee,” Ivy says.  “I’m just here for her.”

A perfect fit

The first time they met, Hayley and Ivy instantly clicked.

“Right off the bat, her first question was, ‘How can I be the mentor you want me to be?’” Hayley recalls.

They were paired up because of their shared interest in nonprofits, but their similar driven, Type A personalities are what really helped them quickly form a working relationship.

“I’m one of those people who tries to do everything by myself, and I don’t like to ask for help,” Hayley says. “Having someone you can relate to and who has the same life experience makes it easier to reach out.”

So, when Hayley needed help with her resume, she felt comfortable asking Ivy to speak with her.

For Ivy, it’s all about helping the next generation. She doesn’t have all the answers, but she can share what she’s learned through her own experiences — the good and the bad.

“It’s very casual, and we can just have a conversation,” Ivy says. “It’s not me teaching her. It’s just us talking about things.”

Sharing successes and mistakes

Ivy has made her fair share of mistakes along the way to running her own business, Helix Consulting LLC. Part of being a good mentor is sharing some of those mistakes with Hayley, so that she might not have to make those mistakes on her own.

But Ivy wants Hayley to understand that even now she still makes mistakes, and that’s OK.

“I think that’s where your humanity comes in and your vulnerability,” Ivy says. “I think that’s as important as how to write a resume or interview.”

Ivy also sees importance in coaching Hayley about her own value.

Before meeting Ivy, Hayley was most concerned about what she could offer a company. But Ivy has taught her to also consider what a company can offer her —and how to deal with those tricky conversations about salary and benefits.

“She’s definitely helped my self-esteem,” says Hayley.

It’s still nerve-wracking, knowing she’ll soon be leaving the comfort zone of York College, but being able to lean on someone who has successfully navigated the outside world makes it a little less stressful.

Mentors on mentors

Both Hayley and Ivy say they’ll stay in touch after Hayley graduates. And Ivy has advised that Hayley continue to seek out new mentors as she goes through life.

Ivy has several of her own who are successful in different facets of life — the business community, nonprofits, public speakers, and beyond.

“I’m just really comfortable that if I see someone who is really good at something, I want to know how they got there,” she says.

It can be intimidating to be on the other end of that relationship, to be the person giving the advice, but she sees a lot of herself in a soon-to-be-graduate like Hayley.

They’re both driven and dedicated hard workers who care deeply about education and staying involved with York College as alumni. And yes, they’re both perfectionists.

People took time out of their lives to help Ivy achieve her goals. 

Now, she says, she’s lucky to be able to give a bit of her time to others.