Advice on Finding and Leveraging a Mentorship

Wisdom is often gained from experiences and by communicating with a mentor, because you have the opportunity to leverage their knowledge. They can provide you with insight on how to deal with the challenges of working life as well as ideas on how to make the most of your education and work experiences. Mentors share their own experiences and expertise in how they solve problems that arise, which can really serve as invaluable insight.

Reaching out and building a relationship with a mentor can be a career improving step that you should consider taking.

Determining who to ask to be Your Mentor

To find a mentor, you should look to the relationships you have in your network. Do your parents have a friend that is working in the field you want to go in? Do you have an instructor who might have a contact with an employee at a local tech company?

Find out if there is a mentorship program or opportunity in your school, academy, company, or region. Within your own organization, think about who you know who might make a good mentor.

Make a list of people and their positions. Analyze this list to see which mentors would be the most ideal to suit what you are looking to learn more about – and rank them accordingly.

Before contacting someone to ask them to be your mentor, you should first do some soul searching. Ask yourself the below questions and write your answers down:

  • What is it that you want to learn from your mentor?
  • How much time are you asking them to spend with you? How often? Until what date?
  • Where would you meet? (Phone call, Emails, Coffee shop, etc.)
  • Why should the mentor consider helping you?
  • What can the mentor expect from you?

Identify what you want from having a mentor.  This might include career advice, skills needed for a role, preparation for a certification exam, or areas that you might need to improve.

Once you know the answers to the above questions, it will be easier for you to carry on a purposeful conversation with potential mentors.

You will want to contact the mentors in a professional manner and also based on your relationship with them. If you need advice on figuring out the correct method, ask your parents, older siblings, or instructor. They might have suggestions or can possibly do the initial introduction to the mentor for you.

Make the Most of Your Mentorship

There are many ways in which your mentorship experience can be created and experienced. But there are basic fundamentals to how you can go about leveraging such an opportunity.

Reach out proactively to your mentor once you have a mentor. Talk about yourself, what you want out of your mentor, and how often you would like to meet.  Be articulate with your request.  And be sure to ask them questions about their career.

Schedule recurring meetings with your mentor, if possible. Create an agenda and send it to your mentor so they are prepared to talk about your topics of interest. This will require you to give some serious thought on what it is you wish to learn from your mentor.

Share your ideas so they understand your thought process. Do not expect them to do everything for you, you have to put in the extra work—they are there as a resource.

Drive and maintain the relationship. The time your mentor provides to you is valuable, so it is wise to be appreciative both verbally and through your behavior (showing up on time, being understanding of their time constraints, etc.)

Find your mentor and develop your bridge to work life experiences. Use it as a tool to excel in your career but remember to be mindful and respectful of your mentor.

We can be inspired by many people in our lives and there are many lessons to be learned as you continue on your journey to being a successful technologist.