5 Minutes with Nicole Young, Benchmark Community Bank
Women's Mentorship Program Past Participant

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Nicole, you completed the VBA Women’s Mentorship program as both a mentee and then as a mentor.  Can you share a little about your journey of how you became a mentee and then why you volunteered to be a mentor?

I was chosen by Benchmark to be a mentee for the VBA Women’s Mentorship Pilot Program. I was thrilled to have the opportunity. When I was asked to be a part of the program, it was at a time in my career when the bank felt I was ready to take on additional responsibilities, but I was hesitant because of the fear of the “unknown”. While participating in the program, I obtained a promotion to Branch Manager at one of the larger branches in our bank. After participating in the program as a mentee, I could serve as a testimony that being in the program really worked. I wanted to share my experience and help others to obtain that same success, so I became a mentor.



Who was your mentor in the program? What insights did you get from that person?

Tabitha Poore was my mentor in the program. She was phenomenal, and we connected instantly. Tabitha gave me the push that I needed at the right time in my career. I was fine in my comfort zone, but Tabitha pushed me outside of my comfort zone.

Speaking of your mentors, do you have any peers you consider mentors and how important has a peer network been to your career growth?

Yes, absolutely. Peers most definitely can serve as mentors because often they are in the same roles in which you may been. Some of my peers also have been in banking longer and have experience and life events to share to benefit others in their careers.

When serving as a mentor yourself, what was the number one thing you hoped your mentee would walk away from the program with?

When I served as a mentor, I wanted my mentee to walk away with confidence. I wanted my mentee to take advantage of all opportunities and step outside of her comfort zone. I wanted my mentee to pass on what she learned by participating in the program and later volunteer to be a mentor to someone else.

You often hear that mentors gain as much as mentees in programs like this. Can you share a few nuggets you have learned through your experience and/or what you have gained from serving as a mentor?

I do agree that mentors gain as much as the mentees in the program. Being paired with a mentee who worked in another department of the bank was most beneficial to me because I learned to view some areas from a different perspective. I was able to learn more about my mentee on a personal level and specifically what her role was in the bank.

Why would you recommend this program to other bankers and what recommendations do you have for bankers looking to make the most of their time participating in the program?

I highly recommend other bankers to participate in this program. This program provides you with the opportunity to grow in your overall career. It allows you to step outside of your comfort zone and to really focus on your career path. The program is not very long, but I encourage bankers to take full advantage of the time by ensuring you utilize your meeting times wisely. Make sure to schedule your meeting in a place where you can focus and avoid distractions. Be on time for your meetings and come prepared.

The initial meeting that we had to kick off the program was most beneficial. It was a great networking opportunity because you were paired with other mentors and/or mentees to discuss anything you were concerned about and how to overcome those challenges.



What does a successful 2024 look like to you?

A successful 2024 looks like continued growth in my recent promotion to Area Manager and the overall growth in the team in which I manage. A successful 2024 also looks like completing my 2nd year at the Virginia Bankers School of Bank Management.

Lightning Round:

  • What is your hidden talent? I can sing a little
  • Who are your heroes? My mom! However, God is #1 in my life
  • Favorite holiday? Christmas 
  • Favorite city in the U.S. besides the one you live in? Williamsburg
  • Item at the top of your bucket list? To take our daughter to Disney World
  • If I wasn’t a banker, I would be…? Lawyer