Doubting your professional capabilities? Learn how a mentor can unlock your potential

Think of a time when you were starting a new job. How did you feel?



Unsure of yourself?

Often, when we’re feeling this way – it’s essential to have someone a little more experienced to guide and encourage you.

For Rylan Miller, having that mentor was essential for his success as a young professional.

When he was in the university, he interned at Harper Industries, which works in agriculture, hydraulics, landscaping and sports turf management. He enjoyed the experience so much he returned to work there after university.

“When [Harper] brought me in to do sales, I had zero experience, I had never actually worked in that role. They were taking a risk on me,” Rylan recalls.

That’s a lot of pressure and it was easy for Rylan to doubt himself – but he credits a key part of his success to his mentoring relationship with Tim Penner (Harper CEO & current MEDA board chair).

“[Tim] was always very encouraging and was always telling me, ‘Hey, you’re doing what you need to do, even if things aren’t going well in sales, just keep going’. When you have someone who is grounded and knows what they’re doing… but also wants to invest time and energy into you – that’s what really set them apart.”

Rylan also credits Tim for introducing him to MEDA – both through attending MEDA convention and becoming involved with local MEDA-related activities in Kansas (including the MEDA Kansas Network Hub). When Tim invited him to go to Paraguay a few years ago to go see a MEDA project – Rylan couldn’t turn him down.

“It was a very enlightening trip. As someone who has an agricultural background, I got to see how MEDA is creating opportunities in rural communities throughout the world.”

After 8 years working at Harper, Rylan & his family decided to move to Oakland, California. But Rylan still works in the agricultural sector – this time as an Ag Equipment Recruiting Consultant for Ag1Source.

In the move out West, Rylan had lost his ability to keep up with his MEDA activities – but he has since reconnected with MEDA through his participation on the MEDAx Planning Committee for this year’s MEDA Convention. MEDAx is a stream within Convention focused specifically on creating a space for young professionals to learn & network.

He says being on the committee has been a great learning experience and has enjoyed working with people on the team.

“I’m really looking forward to meeting a lot of young professionals who have an interest in MEDA who carry similar values to me – to make the world a better place [through] working on alleviating poverty, education, and setting up systems for people to live sustainable lives.”

Rylan is passionate about bringing his story of mentorship to convention – and giving an opportunity for other young professionals to connect with mentors. As Rylan says, “mentors can see things in you that you honestly can’t see or feel yet.”
MEDA Convention is coming up on October 31- November 3 in Tucson, Arizona – and if you’re interested in meeting Rylan and networking with other values-based young professionals across North America – you can learn more here.

“I’m really excited about it and can’t wait to connect with old friends and meet new people!”

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  • MEDA (Mennonite Economic Development Associates)

    MEDA is an international economic development organization that creates business solutions to poverty. We work in agri-food market systems, focusing primarily on women and youth in rural communities in the Global South. Our success is measured by income, improved processes, increased knowledge, and the creation of decent work.

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