Learning Goes Both Ways

Written by Zacharias Voulgaris March 10, 2022

Mentoring isn't just about sharing knowledge and experience but also learning from the mentees. Here is my experience so far.
Learning Goes Both Ways

About the author

Zacharias Voulgaris

Zacharias Voulgaris is one of our professional mentors on MentorCruise and works as Data Science and Cyber-security consultant at GLG.

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Background

I've been mentoring data analytics and data science students for over five years now, through another platform. At first, I thought of this as a way to build a personal brand, help some people, and earn some money while doing all this. As I got more into the role, I realized that I was learning too. Let me explain.


Learning Experiences

Learning my limitations

Mentoring has always been hands-on for me, be it through specific issues I was asked to handle, programming exercises, feedback on presentations, etc. But it's a bit naive to think that I know everything, even if I was adept in most of the stuff the students encountered and would ask me about. Then again, there were certain features of Excel, PostgresSQL, and Colab notebooks I wasn't entirely knowledgeable about. So, I looked into each one of them and learned them. I did this by using tutorials, books, and whatever other educational resources I felt comfortable with. I treated myself as a mentee of sorts. I found the online video libraries (e.g., Safari and PebbleU) a powerful resource, which I use to this day.


Learning about branding myself better

Learning didn't stop there, however. I also learned to brand myself through more modern ways. After all, the resume is gradually becoming more and more obsolete, since describing your whole professional life in a two-page document is quite ambitious, if not unfeasible at times. Sometimes, it's better to show people stuff you've done, e.g. through an online collection of sorts. Although I never got into Github, I learned a different code-sharing platform (also based on Git), mastered a certain site for sharing organized and curated content (mostly used by educators), and make friends with the cloud. Again, I made use of various tutorials I found, a selection of videos, etc. Naturally, I had to do some practice too!


Learning about podcasts and video channels

Although I had some experience with podcasts, I learned more about them from my mentees and go into the habit of listening to a few of them from time to time. Same for YouTube channels (up until then I used YouTube mostly for entertainment). In fact, one of these channels I've bookmarked and recommended to a couple of my mentees since then since it has lots of relevant information for all sorts of analytics professionals.

The process of learning about podcasts and video channels wasn't as easy as it seems. I had to practice active listening, oftentimes through the use of a notepad where I could take notes on what I listened to. This helped me focus my attention and not drift into my own interpretations of the material I heard. As for the video channel I've bookmarked, actually, I did more than that. I found that this wealth of material would be better consumed if I could read it, so I had it transcribed and then read the transcript after I had viewed the video.


Learning about different problem domains

Through the discussion of all sorts of scenarios where my mentees would find analytics applicable, I expanded my understanding of how other domains worked. I was already familiar with Finance, Econometrics, and of course Engineering, but I didn't know much about how Retail or Marketing leveraged analytics. That's something I learned by patiently listening to my mentees before helping them out with the problem at hand. I also conducted informational interviews with SMEs familiar with these areas, such as a data scientist in the NE part of the US, who is in Healthcare, another data scientist in North Italy who was in Insurance, and a few more.


Final words

I could go on about my learning experiences, but I'll stop here. After all, sometimes less is more (another lesson I've learned from mentoring all these years). I'm curious to learn about your experiences and how you learned from your mentoring work. Thank you for reading!


About the author

Zacharias Voulgaris

Zacharias Voulgaris is one of our professional mentors on MentorCruise and works as Data Science and Cyber-security consultant at GLG.

Visit Profile

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