Published May 1, 2020
Mentors are loved by mentees and employers alike. They are great leaders, show empathy for people in sticky situations and know their skill in-and-out. So, how can you become a mentor?
Let’s start with the why. Mentors are needed, and people are looking for a mentor, but what’s in it for you? This may sound selfish at first, but it’s a good thing to consider: Being a mentor is a substantial time investment, and there is a lot of responsibility on your shoulders, so be clear what you are getting out of this first.
A way to give back
Most likely you had a mentor in your life too, be it a teacher or someone at your workplace. Becoming a mentor yourself keeps those wheels turning and ensures that the next generation has their own set of mentors as well.
Polishing your skills
However much you think you know about something, getting other people to understand it too will shape and polish your skills substantially. It’s no coincidence that learning by teaching is its own field of pedagogy.
Bonus points with employers
You care about someone, make sure they succeed. You push people forward, help them learn and train your own teaching skills, all while polishing important skillsets. Employers like that, and you shouldn’t be surprised to find yourself in leadership positions soon.
The deepest network possible
That mentee who joined Apple, that other mentee who now runs their own startup – mentors are rarely forgotten, and as a longterm mentor, you have deep relationships with the people that shape tomorrow.
A mentorship will always take time, preparation and care - even if you’re getting stressed and swamped with work. How good you are with a certain piece of tech, whether you have 5 or 10 years of experience does not matter as much than whether you have the resources to put some time into this. Showing up is the most important step!
Being a mentor is incredibly rewarding and powerful, so be sure that you can give it the care that it needs. It’s important to structure your day to accomodate for this, and reject any mentorship opportunities that you can’t accomodate, e.g. due to timezone issues or time requirements.
If you want your mentees to succeed, plan in timeslots in your daily schedule that accomodate for their requests or sessions.
Chat-only? Scheduled video calls? Give out your phone number?
How you do mentorship is entirely up to you. Some approaches will fit your lifestyle better than others. If you’re on the road a lot, maybe sit-down video calls aren’t the best. If you’re a slow typer, maybe hop on a call instead.
What’s important is that you know, have and follow your own style of mentorship. Also important is that you communicate what your style is with your mentee. There’s nothing worse than a mentee to expect to go on regular video calls with you, when you don’t really want that.
What mentorship entails is not written down in some kind of handbook. Your mentorship style could be to work in form of projects and sample challenges. It could be to work on a product or company together. It can be check-in calls once per week to see how studies are going. Each of these methods is valid, as long as they can help your mentee.
Especially if you are mentoring globally and online, making sure that timezones and schedules work out is a golden rule.
If you are running into troubles to find times and dates to talk, it can be a good idea to set up a specific schedule, for example to meet every Wednesday at 1pm PT for a quick coffee-style video call that takes 15 minutes.
Based on that, you’ll also be able to decide on how many times you want to check in on your mentee. Whatever you do, it’s important to communicate this. If you manage expectations, it’s a lot easier for the mentee to worry about their goals, rather than to worry about you.
Now the question: I’m ready to mentor - where can I find mentees and start with this?
A good way to find mentees is through our mentorship program at MentorCruise. Not only do we offer you the tools, coaching and visibility to succeed as a mentor, we also make sure that your mentees apply through a formal pipeline, rather than just writing you directly.
We’d be honored if you’d choose to mentor with us applications are open anytime, we’d be happy to have you.