So, as we all by now know, this chapter is on “shaping future tech leaders”. A lot of times mentorship is overlooked or forgotten about, but it can be an extremely valuable asset, and even an art. There are two main aspects to go over when examining this topic. How to find someone to mentor you, and how to find someone to mentor.
When you are wanting to find someone to be your mentor, you want to make sure that they are similar enough to you that they will understand what your goals are and where you are wanting to end up. You wouldn’t want your mentor for the beginning of your programming career to be a graphic designer, because they are completely different fields even if slightly relate-able, and the person wouldn’t be able to instruct you as well as someone who was in the same career as you were wanting to enter. You also want to find someone who has your best interest in mind. Finding a mentor is about you, and what they can teach you, so that you can become better in a certain field. You don’t want them to have alternative motives to make a “mini-me”, you should find a mentor who wants to make you even more great than they are or were, on your own, and not in a mirror image of them.
I found a great article on Forbes that goes through some great steps to help you find the right mentor. “Look In (the Mirror)” is their first step. Before you can find a good mentor, you need to know yourself. You need to who you are, and what your goals are, so that you know where you are wanting to be. Once you know where you want to end up, and you know who you are, you can more easily assess who can help you get there. The next step is to “Look Up”. You want to know who is already in the place you want to get, so you know how to form goals to get there. Thirdly, “Look Out”. Even though you want to pick a mentor with your best interest in mind, and for you, you also want to look for ways that you can give back to your mentor, or help them with something they have going on. It’s a two-way road and you want to make sure that you are pouring into their lives as much as they are into yours. “Look Serious”, you don’t want to ask dumb questions, or not follow up. According to the article (linked above), you want to follow the “AIR” method for meetings: “an action item, insight, and a recommendation of someone you need to meet or a book you need to read.” And finally, “Look Back”. Potentially one of the most important pieces of mentorship is being able to pour everything your mentor taught you, back into someone else, and be their mentor.
Which is a great seaway into the best ways to be a mentor to someone. Franchise Growth Partner, wrote a great article titled: “Top 10 Qualities of a Good Mentor“. In this article, they walk through 10 very valuable qualities that are important for you to have before you become a mentor for someone else. First, you need willingness. Willingness to share your knowledge with someone else, with the full intent of them becoming better than you. You also need to share your tips, expertise, and skills. Second, you need to be able to have a positive attitude that people can see, and already be a good role model, before you become a mentor. Third, your interest in being a mentor for someone has to be personal for you, it can’t just be in interest of the work. You need to invest in the person, on a personal level in addition to the career related interest. Fourth, you need to show them how to be enthusiastic about the field, which is also something you should exhibit prior to becoming a mentor for someone. Fifth, you need to see your career as constantly moving and not stagnate. You can’t think you’ve learned everything there is to know, and you need to have intentional focus on learning everything you can so that you can be constantly growing in your field. Sixth, you need to be able to approach someone with positive feedback and guidance. They came to you to learn, so you need to be able to help them learn, and teach them a better way, or a different way if possible and not critique them negatively all the time. Seventh, you should be respected, by pretty much everyone around you in an organization. Not everyone has to like you, but they should know that you are good at what you do, and can respect you if for nothing else, but that. Eighth, you need to be setting personal and professional goals and keep amending and updating those goals, as you reach them, or decide to modify them. You always need to be going somewhere and aiming there. Ninth, you need to value the opinions and guidance of others, every good mentor, has a mentor. And finally, tenth, you need to be able to motivate others by being a good example, which kind of encapsulates the last nine things in the article that were just covered.
I have had great mentors in the past, I honestly wouldn’t be where I am today without mentors. My parents always taught me to have a character or personal mentor, a spiritual mentor, and a professional mentor. You don’t want one mentor for every area of your life. A pastor isn’t going to know about programming, but they might be able to help you with questions or problems in your faith, and so forth.
Below are a bunch of images that I found, and I thought they were all very relate-able to the articles that I found. If you want to learn more about how to find a mentor, you can check out a TED talk that was given on the subject: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=87qjIZRkkio