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How to Find Your Mentor

_patrickgod profile image Patrick God Originally published at patrickgod.com on ・4 min read

Having a mentor can benefit your career and your life in general as a developer dramatically.

Bernd Verst, Cloud Developer Advocate from Microsoft, explains that mentorships helped him tremendously in developing his technical and soft skills, and with achieving his career goals in the long run.

But what can you do if you’re on your own and you just don’t seem to be able to find a classical mentor?

There are a ton of ways to fix this. First, let’s clarify what a mentor actually is.

Contrary to popular belief a mentor doesn’t have to be this one person that teaches you everything about your life and career every single day.

Every person in your life or in your office can teach you something that brings you further on your path.

Just look around. Anybody at school, college, work, any friend or family member may have experiences in areas that can provide you a perspective on your current situation that you haven’t seen before.

Think about that. Your grandma might not have written a single line of code in her life, yet she can teach you a way of life or work that can help you solve your problems.

The more common way, of course, is having a mentor at work. But, again, don’t look for a particular person. Just start asking everybody on your team. If you have any questions, ask.

I know that it’s easier said than done. Especially as a beginner, you might not want to admit, that you don’t know something and you feel embarrassed about that. Trust me, even the professionals with 30+ years experience don’t know everything. So throw this mindset away and start asking as many questions as you can.

Now there’s one problem with that behavior. What if it’s not only about technical or work related stuff? What if you’re interested in personal growth, for instance? Or maybe even topics like family and children?

These things go hand in hand. A good personal life leads to good results at work and vice versa. But unfortunately, these topics are rarely taken seriously in an office – and maybe you don’t want to share any personal issues with your co-workers, which is totally understandable.

So you can try to reach your friends. But what if they are not available, too?

I figured, that with the right medium you can totally mentor yourself.

What do I mean by that?

For starters, grab a book. Have a look at all these biographies. I bet there are successful and famous people you’re looking up to or you’re at least interested in and they have published a book about their lives.

Great examples are the biographies about Steve Jobs and Elon Musk. It is unbelievable what an impact these pages can have. You get the whole package. Work-related stuff and insights for a new way of living your life. You might experience totally different perspectives which may lead to building new habits. Simply amazing.

Even more amazing is the fact, that it doesn’t stop with books nowadays.

Look at YouTube. I know, I know, many people think it’s a big waste of time. But these people haven’t found the right YouTubers yet. There are a ton of really great tutorials that can teach you everything about a technology you need to know to start a new position. When it comes to personal development as a software developer you should try the channel of John Sonmez. Or you can have a look at this channel. ;)

Last but not least, you’re using some kind of mentorship right at this moment. Blogs or online communities are great ways to learn and grow. I’m extremely grateful for dev.to, for instance. It’s hard to take the time to comment and discuss with the community, but the great amount of very well written posts is a gift and reading or at least skimming them may benefit you in a lot of ways.

To sum it up, don’t think about mentorship in an old-fashioned way. Use all the tools we have nowadays to grow. And it doesn’t stop there at all. Being a mentor yourself and teaching others about your experiences will also help to become a better version of yourself.

The post How to Find Your Mentor appeared first on Programmer Goals.


But wait, there’s more!

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_patrickgod profile

Patrick God

@_patrickgod

Into code as long as I can remember. First games, then web, now both. Located in the sweet Taunus-region in Germany. Always eager to learn, create and teach something new.

Discussion

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This is excellent!

People think mentorship has to be this formal mentor-mentee relationship, when in reality that isn't usually the case.

Asking someone to "be your mentor" can often become really awkward really quick. Just asking questions and/or advice, a lot less so.

 

So true!!!

Plus, finding the right mentor depends on a variety of factors that aren't always obvious. And yeah, besides it being awkward (, one also have to remember, that not everyone is interested in becoming a mentor. So yeah, just reaching out and getting in touch, asking questions, and communicating - e.g. on Twitter, which works best for me - is quite a good way o find a 'mentor'.

And, I have the feeling, that people tend to leave out, that a mentor-mentee-relationship does not develop overnight but takes time.

 

I absolutely agree. It can be intimidating for the other person to have the title "mentor". I usually get interested in certain topics during a conversation and then start asking questions to dive deeper.

 

Anyone can teach you. A mentor usually makes a time commitment to you and attempts to share what they think you need to know. Sometimes the relationship between mentee and mentor becomes strained. I've had a few mentors over my lifetime and I've been a mentor a few times. I believe it is an unwritten, and sometimes written, contract between two people where one knows that the other will sacrifice their own time to help the other improve in some way. And why does the mentor do it? Maybe for the public good or because they like you or believe in you.

 

Thanks for sharing!

I actually agree with you that someone can find a mentor anywhere. Mentorship for me is an actual talent and being a mentor doesn't necessarily mean that you have to be senior or too experienced. If you can actually understand what the "mentee" lacks in terms of knowledge, and if you're teaching them in a way they understand (by obfuscating parts that are noise to them, even if that means that you're somewhat correct, but not 100%), then you can consider yourself a mentor.

 

Thanks for your comment!

It's so true that you don't have to be that experienced to teach others. It might even be better to be "just" one level above the other person. Because then you know exactly what your "student" is missing or you understand her perspective. If you're too far away, you might not be able to empathize.

 

Awesome post, Patrick! I've bookmarked it right away and will definitely refer to it in the future! 😊👏

And yeah, totally agree with you. I think the benefits of mentorship for personal and professional development - regardless of your age and position - are widely spread, but quite often we focus too much on the classical mentor-mentee relationship.

Understanding that anybody in your life and/or office can be a mentor, and that you can improve your skills, and better yourself by literally learning from anyone was a huge step for me, too, but has earned me so much.

And, as you're speaking of books, "Women in Tech: Take Your Career to the Next Level with Practical Advice and Inspiring Stories" (by Tarah Wheeler, Esther Dyson, Angie Chang) has been especially helpful for me - would recommend a book to any woman who's looking for advice. It's jam-packed with real-life stories from successful women. It's not only extremely motivating, encouraging, and inspiring, but can also be seen as some kind of mentoring. 💛

 

Effective and great article!

I would have liked some more other resources (channels, blog, etc.)? Same about biographies, which one is a good inspiration too?