Mentorship can be like an ongoing cascade that leaves a lasting impact on the mentor and mentee. For myself, I saw mentoring as an opportunity to provide a role model for young women looking for professional guidance.
I’ve spent most of my time mentoring individuals looking to transition into various engineering roles in tech. By mentoring through a program, I now see some of my mentees flourishing in their roles as product managers, full-stack software engineers, scrum masters, and many other roles in tech.
Today, I’ll highlight a list of benefits of a successful mentor-mentee relationship and provide a guide to starting your mentorship.
A Mentor’s Benefits
Mentoring is free, so your mentee is highly grateful for your time, but it’s also important to count the benefits associated with being a mentor. The following list isn’t exhaustive but highlights major benefits I’ve noticed when mentoring others.
Develop existing knowledge
As a mentor, you become an expert on topics associated with helping grow your mentee’s career journey. By reiterating your understanding of subjects and filling your mentee’s information gaps, you develop your proficiency on topics discussed. Continuing mentorship builds the confidence to work with different types of people, guides others towards their ambitions, and unlocks new channels of information.
Pay it forward
Mentorship works by paying it forward with your time. As soon as I was in a position to give back, I wanted to help others around me and start mentoring. Why not? I had the knowledge already, and aside from the time, there’s intrinsic value in sharing that knowledge to improve someone’s life. Seeing my knowledge help propel someone towards their goal generates a great feeling of gratification.
Starting as a role model for young women, a cycle begins as my mentees become mentors and their mentees continue to provide the ongoing gift of mentorship. Take, for example, a dear friend/mentee of mine, Asia Sharif. We started with an 8-week with Black Girls in Tech, and continued our mentoring relationship. It brings me great joy to see her succeed in her goals and take her newfound knowledge to mentor others and promote the benefits of mentorship. It’s evidence that the power of mentoring has a tremendous impact as time moves on.
Mentorship offers valuable experiences to accelerate personal growth in various skills often used in the workplace. Some notable areas of development include:
- Teaching and working with others
- Answering questions on new topics
- Communicating with diverse personality types
- Navigating various learning styles
- Building confidence
- Establishing an authoritative voice
- Maintaining authentic relationships
- Leading up to coaching for engineering leaders
All these growth opportunities don’t need to happen at once. If you feel you might not have the time to share your knowledge, there are varying lengths and scopes of mentorship opportunities. You might be surprised by how much your bandwidth accommodates and the growth you’ll undergo.
The Value of Mentorship
How does mentorship help a mentee? Where should I start? How do I help someone be successful in reaching their goals? These are some questions you might be asking yourself before diving into mentorship, and there are plenty of ways to answer those questions.
Information is widely available on the internet to help fill in knowledge gaps for someone just getting started on their career journey. Still, mentorship offers additional value that an individual can’t find on Google. Here are some ways that mentorship provides value.
Accelerated growth for the mentee
Your mentee becomes exposed to the knowledge you’ve retained over years of experience. For that reason alone, the information you have and your guidance adds extra fuel to their momentum. As you direct their attention towards attainable goals, you’re also providing opportunities for them to dive deeper into their passions and priorities in life.
Mentorship offers personalized experiences that your mentee wouldn’t be able to get anywhere else. The combination of providing personalization and being an invested mentor is a beautiful vibe.
Networking and sponsorship
An essential part of mentoring involves sharing your network and supporting through sponsorship. For networking, I would introduce my mentee to groups I’m involved in. I’ll also share their details and stories with people who could be helpful to them, which also sets up opportunities to gain referrals. I share helpful groups on social platforms or learning resources. In short, networking is about pointing them in the right direction to a group of people who can help.
Sponsorship is about getting mentees in front of the right people. It’s my job to put my mentees in the right rooms, to have access to the right opportunities, and meet the right people. I use my network to ask people who might be interested in helping my mentee and make their name known.
A Guide to Mentorship
There are different mentorship styles, and my approach starts in a relaxed manner. A mentoring relationship should begin by establishing expectations. I like to start with:
- A mutual understanding that your mentee is starting from ground zero
- Designating mentorship sessions as a safe space.
Do some prep-work
As someone who loves to plan and prep, I find that planning sessions ahead of time helps use the valuable and limited time efficiently. It is good to ask your mentee for early feedback and hear their initial expectations.
Prep work and planning helps me be as efficient as possible, but more importantly, it communicates genuine care for my mentee. Your mentee will feel seen and encouraged by the time and effort you’ve invested in helping them.
With expectations and prep-work done, let’s get started on an 8-week mentorship program.
The 8 Week Mentorship Template
- 1 hour weekly
- Offer continuous check-ins and support
- Adjust based on mentee’s bandwidth/preference
Week 1: Asking Questions
The first and second week is all about learning more about your mentee. Ask questions to learn more about:
- Motivations and passions
- Strengths and areas of improvement
Learning more about the mentee can increase motivation for your mentee if you help align their strengths, passions, and goals. You’ll also start to piece together a picture of their background that could help look for any transferable skills.
Week 2: Create an Action Plan!
During week two, you’re still learning and understanding the mentee as a person. As you wrap up your understanding, start finalizing a focus topic and create an action plan. You’ll also agree on a list of goals or outcomes. Ask questions such as:
- What does success look like?
- How will a mentor hold you accountable?
- How often do you want check-ins?
After establishing a clear focus, outline the plan for the next eight weeks.
Week 3-7: Execute Mentoring Plan!
Items here depend on whatever your mentee chose for their focus for the 8-week program. Topics can include technical interview prep, assessment centre prep, presentations, developing their confidence, and diving deeper into their passions or areas of focus. It all depends on what your mentee is looking for. Some general activities could include fixing a resume or writing a CV.
Across weeks 3-7, check in on the goals you have committed to. Ask questions such as:
- Are your goals still relevant?
- Are your goals still achievable?
- Are your goals still motivational?
Week 8: Celebration, Review, and Next Steps
Woop! You’ve reached the end of the mentoring program! Take some time to celebrate how far your mentee has come along. Show and communicate ways they’ve changed or improved within the span of eight weeks. From there, take time to reflect on how the past eight weeks have progressed. Finally, spend some time reviewing goals, receiving feedback, and planning for the future.
Ask your mentee questions about:
- Future goals
- Things that went well / didn’t go well
- Expectations met/unmet
- Additional help
Ask yourself questions such as:
- Does my mentee want to continue to work with me?
- How can I use my position and my role to help move further?
- How often should I check-in?
- What should our mentor-mentee relationship look like moving forward?
Having wrapped up eight weeks of mentorship, the rest of the journey is in your hands!
If you’re looking for ways to get involved with mentorship today, there are plenty of opportunities such as Black Girls in Tech, Black Valley, and Reed - Women in Technology Mentoring Programme. It’s easy to get started on the website by listing your preferences on the number of mentees and recommended hours.
If you’re looking for ways to start mentorship opportunities within the company, a good place to start is a conversation with your manager. From there, you can move into gauging your company’s appetite to start an internal mentoring program. Look for other peers who might be interested in being a mentor and increase buy-in for mentorship programs.
Other helpful tips include starting a social channel specifically for mentors and building a community of mentors. By gathering mentors at different levels within your organization, you can open up the conversation to see if people want to be a mentee.
Wrapping up, mentorship is rewarding and valuable for both the mentor and mentee. I’ve had many mentor-mentee relationships grow past the initial time range of a mentoring program, and I still keep in touch with my mentees. My only ask is that you take the first step into mentorship and see for yourself.