Like me, many beginners are hungry to get started in the tech industry. Also, many of us want to develop our technical skills and build our professional network. I have completed several internships to learn more about the tech industry and myself as a student. I've interned as an IT Policy Analyst, a Developer Advocate, and even work now as a technical writer.
Yet, I didn't do it alone — I had mentors to help guide me along the way as I tried navigating the tech industry. Finding a mentor or becoming a mentor to others can be a journey in itself. I've been on both sides of giving advice and taking advice, so this experience has helped me figure out what helps a mentor create value for others. There is plenty of advice on being a great mentee, but what about becoming a better mentor?
Below, I wanted to share some practical advice that you can use in your journey as a mentor.
Qualities a Mentor Has
Choosing to mentor others is a huge responsibility. You decide to build a relationship and offer yourself as a resource and foundation to someone else. You will need more than technical expertise as a mentor — soft skills matter, such as good communication skills, patience, and ethics. Remember, not every mentor serves the same purpose.
While some mentees may need mental encouragement, others may need wisdom, and some may look to you as a model for who they would like to be in the future. Think of how you can play a role in their life to help them succeed. To do that, you need to understand your mentee's goals and aspirations.
Learn Your Mentee's Goals and Aspirations
Probe with questions as this is the moment to build a relationship with your mentee. What does your mentee need? Why do they want a mentor? What resources do they need to reach their goals? What are their career goals in the next three to five years? Encourage your mentee to ask questions!
Be clear with what you can and cannot do for your mentee to establish boundaries.
Be a Good Listener
A good mentor asks questions and shares their story with their mentee. A great mentor knows when to listen to understand their mentee's concerns to help them problem-solve.
Other useful skills for mentoring include:
- Remembering People Management.
- Being Supportive – this doesn't always mean professional advice.
- Being mindful of unconscious bias – your experiences matter but should not only influence your advice.
- Striving for your mentee to shoot for higher aspirations, but also remembering to celebrate their achievements.
- Providing direction – many mentees have the discipline and drive; they may need help directing it.
- Providing constructive feedback is a great way to let a mentee know how to improve.
- Remembering feedback is a two-way street. Be receptive and encourage feedback from your mentees.
How to find your mentor or mentee using polywork
There are plenty of people ready for mentorship, but how do you find the right fit, and where do you go? Letting the market know you are available to mentor can be a journey. This is where Polywork comes in!
Polywork is a social networking site where people can share their incredible achievements and initiatives. Polywork, in contrast to LinkedIn, has allowed me to communicate what I enjoy doing and who I am without making it about my job title. It allows for people from all different industries to come together and collaborate.
What makes Polywork impactful for collaboration is what they call their "Find Collaborators" section. Every person is there to collaborate, so if you're looking for a mentee. This is it!
When you select to contact someone, you can see what they are open to collaborating on. You can add an 'Open to Mentoring' notification on your profile to make it easier for others to reach out. If you want to let others know what else you're open to, you can add other types of options that you’re open to with the 'Open to' selection.
Feel free to look through the profiles found on the Find Collaborators page to see what other people are interested in. Polywork is quick and easy to get started with. Explore and see what you find!