Written by Tanner Barlow Sept. 19, 2022
Why did you decide to become a mentor?
I have had several life-changing mentors in my career. I will always treasure the lessons and encouragement they gave me, and I’ve always wanted to be able to pass it on. I’d been thinking for a while about how to best do that - I thought about setting up an ad-hoc website and reaching out to my brother-in-law and his friends in the CS program at his school, but it felt like I’d spend more time finding people to mentor than doing the mentoring itself. Then I stumbled across MentorCruise and realized this would be the perfect opportunity to join an established ecosystem of people looking for a mentor.
It’s a bit of a challenge with imposter syndrome - why would anyone want to listen to what I have to say? But then after starting to work with several mentees (I’ve had 25 sign up so far), I realized that many of the lessons I gained from my mentors are worth passing along. I’ve loved my time mentoring engineers so far and look forward to many more to come.
How did you get your career start?
I was always planning on becoming an orthopedic surgeon, with a focus on athletic injuries since that was something that had such a large impact on my life. I discovered that the medical field wasn’t for me around the same time that I discovered Computer Science. After a couple of classes, I landed an internship at FamilySearch, a company focused on genealogy work. I had a blast there for a summer but knew I wanted to work at a larger tech company to learn from some of the best in the industry. I pestered a Microsoft recruiter (he and I still chat from time to time) enough to where he got me a phone interview, which led to an on-site interview at the Microsoft campus. I didn’t think I had done particularly well, but it was enough to get an offer before leaving the building. That was such a surreal experience being able to tell my wife that I got the offer - I’ll never forget it. I interned at Microsoft for 2 summers in the Windows org and moved over to the Commercial Software Engineering team when joining full-time. I spent 3.5 amazing years at Microsoft and had some incredible managers/mentors that advocated for me and got me on the career trajectory that I’m on to this day. I joined Stripe in November of 2021 and have loved my time here so far.
How do you usually set up mentorships?
I like to make sure the mentorship is exactly what my mentees are looking for, so we spend our first call mostly getting to know each other and setting expectations. If the time for the call works, we make it recurring monthly or weekly, depending on the plan. We chat throughout the week about questions they might have or about code I can review asynchronously. Some mentees want to do a lot of mock interviews, others want to spend time talking about software engineer soft skills, and a broad range of other topics. My main goal is to get my mentees to a point where they don’t necessarily “need” me anymore (although I do think having a coach or another pair of eyes is always a good thing), and to provide the experience they need.
What are you getting out of being a mentor?
Being a mentor is personally rewarding for me. I love watching people learn and grow. I’m also realizing how lucky I’ve been to rub shoulders with the engineers & managers that I’ve worked with so far. I’m hoping to be able to pay that forward and guide engineers that are new in their careers toward a path that will also be rewarding for them. I’ve developed strong friendships with my mentees, which has made it even sweeter to see them enjoy success.
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