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The privilege of mentoring

Dvir Segal
Software Engineer • In the quest for knowledge • Believe there's no such thing as a stupid question • AMA on working in tech, DM is open
Originally published at Medium Updated on ・4 min read

**Mentoring **— Photo by [Joshua Ness](https://unsplash.com/@theexplorerdad?utm_source=medium&utm_medium=referral) on [Unsplash](https://unsplash.com?utm_source=medium&utm_medium=referral )


Originally published at Medium on

Mentoring means cultivating and inspiring others, usually less experienced in the specific field of expertise. IMHO, an experienced engineer must hold the mentoring skill, as it’s critical to the careers of new SW employees and the success of the entire team. This skill is earned by hard work (that made you experienced), and it helps you to develop your career.

The trust between the mentor and mentee is that hidden ingredient in the recipe of building great teams, and in my perspective, being one is a privilege.

On Mentorship

Mentoring includes both new team-members and existing ones, who have advanced in their career into different roles. Once you’re no longer the new guy doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t be the mentee anymore 😉.

The new guy — taken from [quickmeme](http://www.quickmeme.com/meme/3ulha8)

Mentoring comes in a variety of shapes, whether through pair programming, code reviews, or 1:1 meeting. It’s not a must, but try to establish all kind of learning streams — you’ll benefit from it.

On these meetings, the experienced engineer can leverage her knowledge, presentation skills, and writing ability. Furthermore, make sure you deliver the right message; Don’t miss this growth opportunity for you and your mentee.

For me, mentoring is putting others before yourself. It is about caring for each other and having fun from the learning process. What I’m about to say sounds a bit of a cliché, but being a better person by reaching out is more important than being better on your career. People notice your behavior and cherish your help and that’s what makes you better at what you do.

As the blog-post continues, I try to illustrate my mentorship’s experience in both parties. Enlisted below several characteristics and behaviors that I’ve noticed at my mentors and mentees, in which I advise to follow for the success of the process.

Being A Mentor

To be a good mentor has several “variables” that fit together.

First of all, listen to your mentee’s thoughts.

Be Patient, sometimes it can take time to open up and ask questions. Treat people who know less than you with respect.

Make yourself available, be sure it is clear that he can contact you about any subject, whether it is job-related personal concerns or professional matters.

You’ll find the time and let him know the preferred schedule slots. Be there on time and fully present. Otherwise, it will miss the whole point and may lead to distrust.

It is recommended to define an urgency ladder for clear expectations, 

my preferred approach: email < chat < mobile text < phone call < f2f.

That said, it’s not enough to be available. Respond to any attempt of reaching out. Ask broader questions that will make your mentee think about the full picture, context, and consequences.

Try not to be judgmental; be open about failure. Failure is a growth opportunity, help him learn from it. Bring some examples from your failures’ experiences and how you grew up from them. Solidarity and sympathy help to break the ice…

**Break the ice** — Photo by [Hadassah Carlson](https://unsplash.com/@hadassah_carlson?utm_source=medium&utm_medium=referral) on [Unsplash](https://unsplash.com?utm_source=medium&utm_medium=referral)

Being A Mentee

On the other side, being a good mentee requires you to reach out, push yourself forward to get knowledge. Be curious, ask questions.

Be flexible, adjust your time to your mentor schedule; Inquire for the preferred meeting frequency and time slots. Don’t take it personally that often your mentor is busy. Be respectful of her time.

On meeting, arrive on schedule and be fully involved. 

Come with concrete points to discuss and get to them as quickly as you can.

Take notes, learn from the answers. Having said that, take anything with a grain of salt, put in question the given answers. Don’t blame if the advice or answer wasn’t accurate, remember that you are responsible for your actions.

Think outside the box; look for ways where you can also be helpful. Follow up, let your mentor know that you have taken her advice; mainly if it was necessary.

**On mentoring** — Image is taken from [Dilbert.com](https://dilbert.com/strip/2012-12-13)

To sum up

A mentor acts as a role model. You are not born this way, you have to learn to be one. For some, it will be more comfortable, and for others, it may take more time. So yes, you’ll have setbacks that will push you further to learn better practices.

Mentoring each person is different, and you’ll have to find your way to reach them. This fact is what makes it both exciting and challenging. Overall, being a mentor makes you better at your work and in times, advance your career.

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