PAAIA’s Mentorship Program – When Sparks Fly


Sahar’s Story
January 24, 2011, Los Angeles, CA – Sahar Iranipour is a graduate of the American University of Paris/Institut Catholique de Paris graduate with dual Masters of Arts degrees in International Affairs, Conflict Resolution, and Civic Society Development. She contacted the PAAIA Mentorship program hoping to gain some  direction and feedback on the best path to follow to meet her career and long-term goals. Sahar has a passion for working in the nonprofit sector. She also has a desire to work in Environmental policy.  After reviewing her background and needs, PAAIA matched her with Shirin Rahimian who has extensive background in many philanthropic and non-profit activities.  
The “Double-Experience”: Dual mentorship
Shirin began by speaking with Sahar about her background, interests, hopes and aspirations. They discussed Sahar’s short and long term goals.  Shirin shared her experience with Sahar and provided her with encouragement and direction on how to enhance her chances of finding a position within the philanthropic or environmental fields. 
Shirin went on to introduce Sahar to a dear friend and fellow PAAIA  member, Mariam Khosravani, who is the Executive Director of Coastline Community College Foundation in Fountain Valley, CA. “I wanted to introduce Sahar to Mariam because she  resides in the same area and can use her connections to network,” Shirin explained to PAAIA.  Mariam in turn shared her information and experience with Sahar and provided  her with guidance on career goals and networking. 
With the initial and ongoing direction from these two mentors, Sahar was better able to clarify both her personal and professional goals and develop a tentative blueprint of what she needs to accomplish or have in place to meet these objectives.  “I think our true legacy is defined by the skills, ability, and success of the people we mentor,” said Mariam. “I take the responsibility for mentoring very seriously and try to see something in the mentee that he or she doesn’t know is there and help them recognize and build on that.”  
In Sahar’s Own Words
When a friend mentioned PAAIA’s mentorship program I immediately knew I had to take advantage of this great opportunity, as it was exactly what I was looking for -guidance and direction. I had recently graduated from my Masters program and was overwhelmed with worry about finding a job in this economy and fears of failing before I had even started. I didn’t know what I wanted to do and didn’t know where I was going. I also didn’t have someone within this field who could serve as a mentor or provide me with useful feedback and direction.
After being selected, I was paired with a well-established and successful entrepreneur named Shirin Rahimian. We spoke on the phone and I explained my dilemma and confusion. The words of wisdom and encouragement she provided me have made such a lasting impression and have helped give me a sense of relief. She shared with me her own story, not only about her career and how she’s gotten to where she is, but also about life experiences and lessons learned that have helped her on her path to success After our conversation I had a list of people she offered as connections to help me in my career path. I expected only to get career advice out of the experience, but her advice not only changed how I will pursue my career options, but has made me more positive about my future and what I can accomplish. 
Mariam Khosravani was one of the people to whom she introduced me.  She is a strong and well-known woman in the Iranian community who has helped dozens of Iranian Americans achieve their career goals.   Ms. Khosravani is extremely well connected and once I expressed my interest in a career in the environmental and sustainability field, she started emailing all of her contacts in those fields. From there it just branched out and I was exposed to numerous people in the field that I would have had no access to without her help and introduction.  Ms. Khosravani even offered to serve as a reference for an extremely competitive job.  
I am truly grateful for the ability to participate in PAAIA’s mentorship program and for meeting such wonderful sources of guidance.  Their openness and strong will to help was amazing and I am lucky to have made such lasting connections.  I hope that one day I can return the favor and serve as a mentor to someone in a similar situation.

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