Are you starting your first job or internship in the IT field? Maybe you’ve been working in IT for a while but you want to further your career and prepare for a higher-level IT job title.
You may need or want a mentor. How can you go about finding one?
What’s a Mentor?
Before you go looking for one, you must understand who exactly mentors are and what they do.
A mentor is usually a more senior person in your field or the field you want to work in. Mentors have years of experience. They often occupy managerial or leadership positions. The mentor’s role is to foster skills development in the mentee. They should encourage you to think critically and problem solve. They should guide your thinking.
They should also offer feedback on your performance and ideas, critiquing solutions you come up with. In this way, you can learn from mistakes and develop important skills for success.
Who Will Mentor?
Finding a mentor often depends on someone’s willingness to become a mentor. Some people love the idea of passing along their knowledge and fostering tomorrow’s leaders. Other people feel they’re too busy to dedicate time to the mentoring relationship.
You need a mentor who’s willing to give you their time and effort. A mentor whose heart isn’t in it won’t truly help you further your career. So where can you look to find a mentor?
Mentorship Programs at Work
Many companies have mentorship programs in place. If yours does, take full advantage of it. Company leadership has clearly recognized the value of developing talent already within the ranks. Leaders in your company are interested in developing an ongoing partnership with you as you grow through different roles within the corporate structure.
A workplace mentorship program can be a great tool. There may also be shortcomings. Mentorship programs are often limited to those who sign up to be mentors. The available mentors may not be able to offer you much guidance for the role you’re preparing for. The people who would actually make great mentors may not sign up.
Mentorship Programs outside Work
You might also take a look outside your workplace for a mentorship program. These programs are often run by professional associations or other organizations. Since they’re not limited to one workplace or company, they have a broader pool of mentors to choose from. You’ll have a better chance of finding a mentor whose knowledge and skills pertain to the role you want to prepare for.
Some drawbacks to an external mentorship program include a lack of face-to-face interaction. Your mentor may be great, but you may have to meet with them by video conference or phone call. They won’t necessarily get to see you in action on the job either.
Call on Your Personal Network
You can also call on your personal network in your search for a mentor. Someone in your circle may be willing to act as a mentor or they may know someone else who’s a great fit for the job.
If your personal network is small, try attending conferences and workshops. These opportunities offer you the chance not only to learn but to connect with others in your field as well. You may very well find your mentor by attending a seminar or a lecture.
Ask Your Supervisor or Manager
Depending on the role you want and the stage your career is at, you could also ask your supervisor or manager to act as a mentor. This is a good solution if your workplace doesn’t have a formal mentorship program in place.
Keep in mind a mentor teaches you more than how to do your job.
Using one of these methods, you can and will find a mentor to help you on your IT career journey.