Full interview: Milana Meytes, mentor in SIM’s community

Educator, Researcher, Writing, Content Development

Milana is one of our international mentors in the She is Mom community. We connected with her at the Web Summit, and she won us over with her enthusiasm and the trust she gave to our project. She is a woman who is passionate about what she does and makes things happen.

💃 Who is Milana Mytes, and what does she do? 

Milana is a conceptual and creative thinker with an endless curiosity and desire to create. Milana has been an educator in public and private schools, a university foreign lecturer, and an ESL teacher to adults and youth. She has led professional development for teachers in NYC and Serbia and managed an Essay Writing Program at an NYC nonprofit. She was directing the Essay Writing Program at an educational start-up and founded an Essay Conference for NYC youth. She is a writer at heart and loves to write creative non-fiction, memoir, and poetry about her travels, growing up in NYC, and exploring the meaning of 'home' after the collapse of the USSR and her family's immigration. Her academic work focuses on emigre writers, diasporas, and post-communist societies. 

💃 What was the moment when you realized what you wanted to do? 

When I was fourteen years old, I wrote a memoir about my family and growing up first-generation in a Russian-American household in NYC. That memoir's second draft won a national Gold Key from the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards, the largest creative writing awards for youth in the US. The ceremony was at the legendary Carnegie Hall, and at that moment, when I looked at my parents in the audience, I thought that maybe I could really do this. 

💃 What does work-life balance mean to you? 

I think work-life balance is absolutely critical to my personal values and should be a societal one. Growing up in a hyper-capitalist environment in the US and being accustomed to the daily grind of NYC, I used to normalize jobs and work as the singular purpose of a successful life and be content with institutions that demanded your time, strength, and sometimes dignity with little in return. It is not until you realize that you are replaceable to any company or institution. You see the true importance of work-life balance and never feel guilty for prioritizing your personal life just as much as your professional. 

💃 What does it mean for you to be a mentor? 

Being a mentor to me means paying it forward. I could not have gotten to where I am without guidance from people that believed in me and cared. We all need infrastructure that helps us survive and thrive, so being a mentor to someone else will hopefully allow me to build a framework for others. This is what we do and, needless to say should do, especially as women. 

💃 If you were to leave a message for the people who will read this interview, what would it be?  

I would say that success is just a measure of how many times you try again. I have never attained anything I really wanted or worked for on my first attempt, and for that, I am resilient. Also, don't take yourself too seriously. Laughter is key!