Updated July 10, 2023 | Originally Published July 12, 2021
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In The Tech Jungle, Everyone Should Have an Experienced Guide
If you want to find yourself at the top of the career ladder, or at least find yourself moving up, you need to find a mentor in tech. A mentor can be an indispensable asset to IT professionals in the earlier stages of their careers. They can serve as a guide and an advocate, an ally and an advisor, a brain to pick and a shoulder to lean on, someone who you can confide in and can rely on to give you real, and sometimes blunt, truths.
In some tech companies, finding a mentor is relatively easy as they have formalized mentorship programs in which they pair a more seasoned IT pro with someone just starting out. But if your company doesn’t have such a program, or you are between jobs, you’ll have to find a mentor on your own. And even if you’ve been connected to or found a mentor at your current employer, you may want to find a mentor in tech from outside of your company to add even more value to your career.
What You’ll Learn in This Post:
- For tech professionals just starting their careers, a mentor can be an indispensable and career-changing asset who can serve as a guide, advocate, ally, and advisor.
- Look for a mentor among those who may already be your go-to person for questions and concerns, and increase your networking to expand the pool of potential mentors.
- Your mentor needs to know their stuff, but they should also be committed to helping you and have the communication skills to effectively share their knowledge and insights.
Are you an employer looking for help setting up mentoring opportunities? See our article Mentoring New Hires in a Remote Workplace.
Why It Is Important To Find a Mentor In Tech
There are at least three good reasons why you should find a mentor in tech. First, a mentor has been to the places in your career you want to go and done the things you want to do. Just like you have and will, they’ve made mistakes they’ve learned from and they can share those lessons with you. While you may know a lot about programming or any other hard skills that form the core of your IT career, you may not know how to navigate office politics or what it takes to succeed at your company. A mentor can give you valuable insights into the personalities you work with, the unwritten rules your company follows, and all of the things you won’t learn from a book, class, or certification program.
The second reason to find a mentor in tech is because, as you progress through the early years of your career, you may have questions or encounter challenges that you are unsure how to navigate. They may not be the types of issues or concerns you feel comfortable discussing with your supervisor or direct superior. If you have a trusting, open relationship with a mentor, you can feel comfortable discussing these matters with them knowing that they will understand and respect your privacy.
Third, a our mentor can also serve as a key networking asset. They likely know a lot more tech professionals than you do and can connect you to people inside and outside of your company who can help you expand your network.
Wherever and however you connect with a mentor, that person should be experienced, available, empathetic, open, and enthusiastic about helping you. They should have skill sets that match up well with yours, and be committed to their role as a mentor.
Here are some tips to help you find for your personal sherpa to help you climb the tech career mountain:
In your current position, there is probably someone you work with or for who is your go-to resource when you have a question or need help. There may be a certain team member you turn to for coding knowledge, or perhaps a senior software developer who is always welcoming when you knock on their door.
These organic relationships often naturally progress into a mentorship dynamic, even if neither you nor your putative mentor formally recognizes it as such. In addition to providing general or technical guidance, an in-house mentor can offer you unique insights about your workplace, its culture, and the interpersonal dynamics that play a big role in your career trajectory at the company.
As noted, there may be issues or concerns that you’re not comfortable raising with people you work with. Similarly, you may want to expand your skill sets and network beyond what an in-house mentor can provide. That is why you need to broaden your horizons and look beyond your office to find a mentor in tech.
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Network Like You Mean It
We don’t have to tell you how important networking is when it comes to finding new opportunities or growing your circle of relationships in the tech industry. But networking is also a fantastic and effective way to locate potential mentors.
Stay in touch with college friends and other friends in tech and ask them if they know of any good mentor candidates. Go to tech talks and seminars and mingle with your fellow IT pros. If a speaker particularly impresses you, stick around and introduce yourself. Arrange for informational interviews with individuals whose career paths reflect what you would like to see happen in your own career. Any of these folks could wind up being your ideal mentor, or may be in a position to help you find a mentor in tech.
The Right Substance AND The Right Style
In college, you probably had at least one professor who was brilliant in their field but couldn’t teach a fish to swim. Likewise, a good mentor needs to know what they’re talking about, but they also need to know how to talk about it. A person could be the best in their field, a technical genius, and a renowned thought leader and still be a horrible mentor.
The type of mentor you want needs to be able to share their knowledge effectively. They also should be someone whose style and approach suit yours. Try to find a mentor in tech who shares your values and interests, both inside the tech industry and in their other areas. The mentor-mentee relationship is one that combines the professional with the personal. Don’t discount the importance of the latter when it comes to choosing a mentor.
Keep Things Casual
Very few IT professionals become mentors at first sight. Explicitly asking someone to be your mentor at your first meeting is like asking someone to marry you on a first date. That doesn’t mean you can’t ask your potential mentor questions or explore how they may be a good fit. But let things progress at their own pace. Establish trust and a comfort level and build upon that to find a mentor in tech.
Contact GTN Technical Staffing Today
When the top technology companies need top talent who possess the IT skills in demand this year and in the years that follow, they turn to GTN Technical Staffing. We can help IT professionals looking to reach new heights in their careers connect with those employers starting right now.
Contact us today to learn how we can help you move forward in your IT career.