An interesting topic with many short stories.
Published: December 14, 2022
Updated: December 18, 2022
I first explored mentoring during my 4th year in the university. There was a mentorship program designed by the student executives at my department. The goal was to foster relationships and knowledge sharing. It sounded interesting, so I signed up.
After a few weeks, the list got out and I had my first mentee. I admit that I was nervous about it, but I embraced this new experience. I reached out and we set up an introductory meeting. Luckily, there was an event and it was convenient to attend and see her. We had a conversation and that was the beginning.
I invested some time in getting to know her, her aspirations, and we had more conversations over time. Academics, life as a student. Considering the scope of our conversations wasn't wide, I was confident enough to give answers. Over time, as I got to experience life, our conversations eveolved.
I can call it a success because our relationship is still on till today (since 2017). She's currently interning as a Frontend Engineer.
I've had about 10 mentees ever since.
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I learned that there is a knowledge gap and this is one way to handle it. Everyone is at a stage in their lives where they need some insights into the next. This has a wide range of topics like relationships, marriage, career, friendships, specializations, and so on. So anyone in the next stage can offer some guidance.
I have always envied teachers growing up. I wonder how it feels to watch their wards grow up. The decision to be part of someone's story brings fullfilment to me. Knowing that all the knowledge you acquired through sweat and tears 😅 can help the next person avoid going through same.
My mentor search story
When I left the university, I worked as a Frontend Engineer, the first one on the team, at a startup. Basically, there were many days when I needed some guidance or just extra eyes on my work. I had colleagues in other teams, but there were domain-specific topics I needed help with.
So I asked my CEO, at the time, for assistance. He reached out to a few friends, but couldn't find someone available to mentor me. So I decided to follow a lot of people on Twitter, sent connection requests on LinkedIn to more experienced people. I also followed writers and publications on Medium. Basically took matters into my hands to learn from the online community. This is something I'm truly grateful for.
I got desperate and sent a cold DM to a popular influencer on Twitter. She had a startup of her own, but wasn't an Engineer. I felt that I could learn from her. She was so impressed by the format of my message, that she said she couldn't turn me down. We tried to meet on various occasions, but it didn't work out. So I decided to learn from afar.
Over time, I shifted my focus from looking for mentors to finding more people to mentor and guide. Paying it forward. If whomever is serious about it and shows me their resolve, I get moved to invest more of my time. There have been cases where people reached out and didn't return to give updates or ask follow-up questions, and that's fine.
What to expect?
Take out time to outline what you want your mentor to help with. It will you choose someone and help track your growth in that specific area. Know what you want from the experience.
Don't fall into the trap of thinking a mentor will save you. The onus is on you to take charge of the situation and take action. Do not see a mentor as a saviour or place them on a pedestal. At the end, a mentor is also human with goals and aspirations.
Think of how you can also give some value to your mentor. Relationship building goes both ways. It could be a gift, offering to help with a few things or even caring about their wellbeing.
Do not outsource all of your thoughts to your mentor. When I found a mentor, I kept asking questions that I needed to figure out myself and outsourcing my thoughts to her and it didn't work out. I figured out that this was a problem later on.
Not all relationships need to turn to into mentorship. Sometimes, a few counselling sessions are fine.
Finding a mentor can be an arduous task, I admit.
Alternatively, you can pick role models and learn from afar like I did. The personal relationship might not be there, but this can be a huge step in the right direction. And if you find a mentor, cherish that relationship .
I have approached mentorship with an open mind. I try not to push my thoughts or ideas but let the other person see it for themselves. I won't want my mentees to follow my path without conviction and lose their sense of self and individuality.
So it gives me great joy to know that my mentees are doing well for themselves. That, in itself, is enough for me.
Are you ready to work with me?
I'm actively open to new opportunities and requests.
If you have a question, or just want to say hi, I'll try my best to get back to you.