No one is too old, too successful, or too experienced to have a mentor. Whether you just graduated with your bachelor’s in computer science, you recently started your own tech company, or you have 20 years’ experience in software engineering, you can benefit from a mentorship.
Discussing different areas of the tech business to those outside the industry can be like speaking to someone in another language. Even for those in IT, trying to convey a concept to someone outside of your discipline might result in some crossed wires and misunderstandings. That’s why having an advisor within tech is so critical since they’ve likely experienced the same challenges as you.
A good mentor will be someone in your area of expertise you admire who shares their career story with you – wins and losses— while also giving you advice for your own development in the workplace. While there won’t always be a person who is universally adept at guiding you through all your desired skillsets, you can pick and choose who will help you to build upon specific talents. You might even consider seeking out a tech recruiter who will be adept at mentoring you through the tech job search process.
Read on to learn why a mentorship might be helpful, what to look for in a tech mentor or IT recruiter, and how to find one.
Keeping up with the latest software, languages, frameworks, or best practices can be a challenge for anyone working in tech, regardless of industry experience. Not only do you need to stay updated on the technologies you’re working on, but you also have to make time for your own professional development.
And why go this journey alone? Tech mentors can help point you in the right direction and allow you to avoid mistakes they made in the past, better equipping you for the future.
A mentor might assist you with professional and personal goals such as:
Your workplace guide will allow you to gain clarity in your career and the self-assurance necessary to navigate new work experiences—e.g., office politics, complementary fields to your skillsets, or mistakes that might hinder your progress. They can answer questions you may feel uncomfortable asking others and give you advice that others may not be as forthcoming with, thereby erasing doubt and instilling confidence in you.
Tapping into your network allows you to take advantage of knowledge from tech veterans with expertise in the areas you want to grow in. Looking to explore natural language processing but don’t have opportunities on the job? Want to integrate a security perspective into your DevOps mindset? Ready to add team management to your tech skillsets? A mentor should be on your mind.
So, how do you find the right mentor for you?
When seeking out a tech mentorship, it’s best to choose someone who has experience in your specific IT sector or the area you’re hoping to move into.
You may also already have a mentor, just without the label! Has another developer shared their knowledge on part of a code base you were struggling with? Or a design pattern they’ve learned when reviewing a pull request? That’s mentoring. Maybe a coworker provided feedback on your slide deck as you prepared for a presentation. That’s also mentoring!
Take advantage of workplace relationships that already exist. If there is someone in your office you regularly go to for career advice or feedback, consider utilizing their knowledge more often (if they’re okay with that, of course). The more connected someone is with your work and abilities, the better they will be at mentoring you.
Sometimes, your mentor sees career opportunities that you might not even have considered. In fact, it’s their ability to open those doors which is the perfect parallel to their technical knowledge.
The key to finding the right mentor for you is ensuring they have familiarity with the field you’re interested in. Searching for a new opportunity in software engineering, but don’t know where to start? Want to learn more about IT project management positions near you? What better person to trust than an IT recruiter?
As experts in the tech staffing industry, their jobs revolve around matching candidates with jobs based on their skills, knowledge, and qualifications. They understand what a candidate needs to be successful in a role and can recommend interview and resume strategies that are relevant to different companies.
Not only will they understand what you need, but also what employers want. IT recruiters have a deep understanding of job market trends, and they know what it takes to get hired and what employers are searching for.
Once you have a potential mentor in mind, take these steps:
As for working with a recruiter, research the staffing firm you’re working with. Check out online reviews from past candidates to see if others have found success with your recruiter. In your initial conversations, gauge their knowledge of the fields you’re interested in.
Whether you just graduated college or have 30 years of experience in your field, it never hurts to have a trusted, unbiased ally in the workplace. A mentorship can make a lasting impact on your personal and professional journey by leading to new opportunities, greater confidence in navigating your field, and exciting new connections. So, if you want to achieve greater levels of career success faster, a mentor may help you do just that.