Being a mentor to aspiring and newly minted IT professionals is one of the finest ways to have a significant effect on their careers and give back to the community, all while advancing your own professional growth and career. Do you want to be a mentor in the IT sector but don’t know where or how to start? Here’s how to do it and get the most out of the experience.
Why become a mentor?
A mentoring relationship is incredibly powerful. It helps mentees learn, grow, and improve their skills, which in turn can positively impact their job prospects. Within the IT field, where developments and advancements happen at a rapid pace, having a mentor is one of the best ways to effectively adapt to those changes. An insight from someone who has successfully overcome the challenges of being in this field can also make a huge difference in one’s career outcomes and trajectory.
Although it may appear that mentees receive the better end of the bargain in a mentoring relationship, the person giving the mentoring benefits as well. So, if you’re thinking about becoming a mentor, here are some of the things you can get out of the relationship based on the experience of.
Give back. At some point in your career, you may have had colleagues who showed you the ropes of the job and helped sharpen your skills, enabling you to navigate through difficult times. By taking on the role of the mentor, you are keeping the cycle of teaching and learning going, ensuring that today’s mentees will become tomorrow’s mentors.
Achieve career gains. It may not be obvious on the surface, but going the extra mile to help others can positively impact your career. Aside from refining your own way of thinking and improving your approaches to different situations, being a mentor reflects your ability to push people forward and work on their skills. Employers value this ability, and this could lead you towards a promotion or a better career opportunity in the future.
Improve your abilities.. Mentoring is a two-way street. It is not only you who will do the teaching, but your mentee as well. Working with someone less experienced or from a different background gives you the opportunity to see things from a different perspective. What is more, you are able to develop your own skills because you will find yourself working hard to address your mentee’s needs, while also trying to meet their expectations of you.
Personal satisfaction. By assisting another person in achieving their professional goals, You are preparing them to be tomorrow’s leaders. This can provide you with a sense of accomplishment in knowing that you made a difference in someone else’s life.
How to become a mentor
As you can see, being a mentor can bring a number of benefits to you on a personal and professional level. Knowing all that, you are likely excited with the prospect of becoming one. So, to get you on the right track and make the most of the opportunity and experience, we have put together a simple guide below.
Make yourself prepared. Before you get yourself out there, it is important to be clear about what you are looking for. You need to know what are your objectives and goals for becoming a mentor and what expectations you have in a mentoring relationship. It is also a good idea to define your time commitment, as mentoring often requires frequent check ins to maintain productivity and engagement.
Figure out your mentorship areas. IT is a vast and diverse field, which means there are many different areas you can provide mentorship in. With that in mind, you need to determine what you want to offer to prospective mentees. Is it project assistance? Skills development? Technology and tool familiarisation? Career planning? Interview preparation?
Find potential mentees. Too often, the most successful mentoring relationships are those that grow organically between people with shared interests or similar career path or work styles. So when finding potential mentees, do not look out too far. Tap into your network or organisation first, as some of your peers could be looking for a mentor to guide them.
If you are unable to find someone, you can always venture outside your circle. Platforms like Speedy Mentors offer an easy way to connect and work with mentees who are interested to develop their careers in the IT sector. The best part about this is that the majority of them provide a flexible way of mentoring, allowing mentors and mentees to engage as and when they are available. Use these platforms to your advantage to find mentees you can support.
Set expectations. When you and a mentee agree to engage in a mentoring relationship, it is good practice to set out clear expectations early on. You want to make sure that you and your mentee are on the same page on matters related to goals, time commitment, schedule (for check ins and follow ups), confidentiality, activities/projects, communication methods, resources, and more.
Teach, learn and adjust. Once you have the essentials sorted out, you and your mentee can jump right into the mentoring relationship. Start sharing your wisdom and experiences to your mentee and listen to what they have to share as well. Your mentoring relationship does not have to be perfect, but make sure that throughout the process there is mutual respect, a level of flexibility, strong accountability, and productivity.