Navigating through something alone can be quite challenging, be it a new job, role, career, or anything out there. I mean, even the first time you enrolled in high school you had someone assigned to you, someone preferably older to guide you in your early days in the school. This person acts as a guide to help you get on your feet and is most likely the person you go to in case of any problem. In the modern world, we call them mentors. So who exactly is a mentor and what is their role in your life or that particular phase in your life?
Who is a Mentor
A mentor is someone who can support, advise and guide you. They typically take the time to get to know you and your challenges and their understanding of a personal experience to help you improve.
Mentors have the potential to become lifelong friends or the relationship might only last once a goal is achieved. I mean there's no one size that fits all, right?
Bob Proctor said " A mentor is someone who sees more talent and ability within you than you see in yourself and helps you bring it out to you" and I couldn't agree more. However, note that he says that a mentor helps bring it out of you and not a mentor brings it out of you. There's that difference there, you have to put in the commitment and zeal to learn.
Mentorship is generally a relationship between two people where the individual with more experience, knowledge and connections can pass along what they have learned to a more junior individual within a certain field. The more experienced individual is the mentor while the individual being guided is the mentee.
How To Get a Mentor
Funny story, I have two mentors. My first mentor was simply a friend I had been introduced to by another friend. He really helped me overcome many different milestones when I was starting out. When I asked him to be my mentor, he laughed it off and instead referred me to someone who was apparently also a friend.
That's how I got my second mentor. He believed that my second mentor was in more capacity to help me because the person was in the same field I was in and that was true. Both have been very helpful in my transition into tech and I wouldn't have it any other way.
Most people get their mentors by simply 'shooting their shot'. You decide to ask someone who you really look up to to be your mentor, just like I did. Have someone in mind, reach out to them for a coffee or video call. It is important to build a relationship before asking. If you find the experience valuable to your career journey, ask them if they would be happy to mentor you. If not you can ask for recommendations. However, I believe things have been made easier for us nowadays because there are platforms that connect us to mentors, and for free, can you imagine that?
Some of these platforms include:
MentorCruise: MentorCruise is a platform that connects mentees with experienced mentors in the tech industry. They offer mentorship in various areas such as programming, data science, UX design, and more.
CodeMentor: CodeMentor is an online platform that connects developers with experienced mentors who can help them with coding challenges and provide guidance on best practices.
WomenWhoCode: Women Who Code is a global nonprofit organization that offers mentorship to women in the tech industry. They have a mentorship program that connects mentees with experienced women in tech.
HackHands: HackHands is a platform that provides on-demand coding help and mentorship from experienced developers. They offer mentorship in various programming languages and frameworks.
UdacityMentorship: Udacity is an online learning platform that offers mentorship to its students. They have a team of experienced mentors who can provide guidance and feedback on student projects.
Springboard: Springboard is an online learning platform that offers mentorship in various tech fields such as data science, machine learning, and software engineering. Their mentors are experienced professionals in the industry.
ADP List: ADPList is a platform created to facilitate mentorship democratization.
These are just but a few of these platforms. The internet has loads of information and resources that you can put to great use.
Roles of a Mentor
- Introduce new ways of thinking
-Challenge your limiting assumptions
-Share valuable life lessons
-Help you achieve your personal and career goals
-Advance within your field and connect you with opportunities that you might not have otherwise had access to.
However, there are things that we as mentees sometimes forget and assume are part of their responsibilities as our mentors. These assumptions include
-Provide mentees with personal introductions to other people. A mentor can only recommend you to some sources but not personally introduce you to their personal relations unless they are comfortable in doing so.
-Spend time in the relationship than he/ she is willing to provide. As I said earlier some mentorships only last until when the goal is achieved. If the mentor is unwilling to continue the sessions after that then as a mentee you have to respect that decision. These are people who have other commitments aside from you as they are human.
-Take the lead in the relationship. As the mentee it is up to you to put in the work, the mentor is only there to help you or give you a push. Let them know that you are ready to learn by showing the dedication needed. Remember that their work is not to spoon-feed you.
Tips on How to Maintain a Good Mentor-Mentee Relationship
Must be eager to learn- you must open yourself up to learning because that is what most part of the mentorship entails. Being closed off will make it hard to go through the experience.
Initiate- Ask questions and be proactive. Do not rely on your mentor to do all the work for you. Remember his/her work is to guide you not do it for you.
Expect support, not miracles- be realistic in your expectations.
Communicate clearly- have a clear objective that is specific and measurable. Communicate your issues so that your mentor can figure out how to help you.
Always maintain confidentiality- Whatever is shared between your mentorship sessions should remain private unless your mentor is comfortable with you sharing some of the information.
Be a good listener- If you won't be a good listener then you won't learn because we learn by listening and doing and you can't follow instructions if you don't listen to the instructions.
Be honest- being honest about what you really want to achieve and how you need to be helped will help you learn a lot and get more clarity on a lot of things. It's good to be honest with your mentor and yourself. Help your mentor help you.
Respect your mentor's boundaries- This is the most important point of all. Communicate respectfully with your mentor and be careful to not inundate your mentor outside the sessions. Also, respect the boundaries in the sessions, and let things be professional unless told otherwise.
Provide Feedback- Always give feedback after the sessions, address any issue that might have come up, apply the ideas given, and let them know the results. Also, follow up on any task given or assignment.
Almost every great achiever in history has claimed that they had a great mentor at some point during their rise to excellence. This shows how important having a mentor in your journey is.
However, when looking for a mentor, find one who has a title similar to one you would like to have one day or one who once worked in the position you are in now. This will help you have a common understanding of roles and responsibilities as well as future possibilities.
Remember that mentoring isn't a cure, It isn't going to fix everything. It can only help you think in a better way and open up your mind more. You have to put in the work so as to achieve those goals and beat that milestone in your career.