Why Mentoring Can Help Your Career Progression
Why should you have a Mentor?
Why should people bother with finding themselves a Mentor or, better again, Mentors for their career? Surely working hard, keeping your head down and doing an honest days’ work for an honest day’s pay should be enough for anyone to get through their working life.
Once upon a time that was the case. My father joined the ESB when he was 17 years of age, worked hard for 40 years and was able to retire, having worked with just the one company his whole life. He’s happily retired 14 years this year.
Earlier this year, research from the USA showed that on average people change their jobs 12 times in their working career. In late 2017, statistics showed that the average tenure for an Irish person in a job was 8.5 years, so on average 5 changes in their working life, bearing in mind that within the Tech sector that number will be higher.
Interesting statistics I know but what has that got to do with Mentoring? If we were to look at those 5 changes that happen in the typical Irish person over their career, how many of those moves are initiated by the person and how many by the company they work for? This is where the power of having a Mentor or Mentors come in.
The dictionary describes a mentor as “an experienced and trusted adviser”. When you are contemplating your career, or a career move, who do you turn to if you turn to anyone at all? Jim Rohn famously said that “we are the average of the five people we spend the most time with.” So if you haven’t been particular in selecting who is in your inner circle, then chances are you’ve surrounded yourself with likes of Pedantic Pat, Moaning Monica and Numpty Nick, who will be telling you why you can’t do something or why you shouldn’t try to improve yourself or why you should always fear change.
However, if you have taken control of your career and have embraced the idea of a mentor, as well as have been fortunate to benefit from their advice, you know the massive impact they can have on you making the right choices.
What should you expect when you have a mentor?
Time. A mentor will give you the appropriate level of time you need to get an understanding of who you are, what your career goals are and what they need to do to be part of that journey with you.
Wisdom. They will be someone that has an insight into your chosen career, knows the pitfalls you may face and can articulate what’s required to help you achieve your goals.
Belief. It’s perfectly natural for someone to occasionally have doubts about whether they are capable of achieving what they want to achieve, especially if their goals are ones that will stretch them. A good mentor will ensure, through their belief in you, that while your self-belief may wobble, it will never falter.
Where do you find a Mentor if you don’t have one?
Ideally, the company you work for and your manager are aligned in wanting you to achieve what you are capable of. So the obvious place to start is with your manager or with peers within the company. Whilst employers may recognise the importance of having a mentor, it may not always be possible from within the company, but fear not, there are a number of innovative ways to find and engage with possible mentors.
Firstly I’d recommend attending Tech Meetups within your areas of interest. Start by striking up a conversation with other engineers, chatting with the speakers at these events and talking to the organisers. All of this will give you good information and possibly the mentor you were looking for.
If not there, then use online forums to engage with engineers to find ones that have achieved what you are looking to achieve and pop them an email. You’ll be surprised by how many will be open to helping you.
Another great source of information that definitely can be used to supplement your growth, is using podcasts. There are so many resources available out there and you can utilise your commute in a much more productive manner.
Finally, I’d recommend anyone who works within the Technology Industry to invest the time in getting to know one or two recruiters who specialise within their field. A good recruiter will know what the market trends are, what skills are in demands, what you need to work on and who you should speak with to help you with your career.
Written by Garry Barcoe, Senior Principal Consultant – Infrastructure and Cloud Technologies