The mentoring program for the young women would pertain to specific skills or career-related challenges
The leap into a technology based career can be simultaneously exhilarating and intimidating, be it a new college grad or making a mid-life career challenges. No matter how young women feel about the transition, mentorship can play a key role in their success. No matter how they got there — or what their qualifications may be — as a young woman in technology they might at some time experience doubt, feelings of inadequacy, or worry that they are just not “good enough.”
This adjustment period can go smoothly if the young women find a mentor to take the technology journey with them. And day one on the new job is not too soon for mentoring to be of value. Everyone has their own strengths and aspirations. And everyone at some point in their career might experience imposter syndrome, fear of failure, or lack of self-confidence.
Mentoring works for everyone, but the young women in technology can particularly benefit from mentorship as a means to build confidence, enhance skills, and set achievable career goals and far more things.
Mentorship in tech fosters more than technical skills
Apart from technical guidance, the young women can especially benefit from mentorship as part of their professional and personal development in a technology career.
Strong communication skills are essential for strong leaders which allows women in tech to practice their communication skills with someone who is focused on their growth and success. Practicing clear, effective communication is possible with someone ready and willing to give feedback.
One way to learn leadership skills is to be mentored by someone who’s already in a leadership position. Aspiring leaders succeed when they can interact with others already in leadership positions. Mentors can become role models, and developing leadership skills gets women into the pipeline for promotion.
Adaptation to a new environment:
Female mentorship — especially when joining a new company or department — allows women to acclimate to the culture more quickly. Joining and embracing a culture established and populated primarily by men might require different insight.
A mentor can offer opportunities to expand the mentee’s network of personal and professional contacts through invitations, introductions and suggested organizations to join
As woman in tech, how can you make the most of mentoring opportunities?
Be selective – Put in the time and effort to find the right mentor.
Be strategic – Know what you’d like to learn from your mentor and make sure they are aware of it.
Don’t be shy – Don’t assume mentors will come find you. Take action that will have others see you as someone worth mentoring: ask for more challenging assignments, speak up with good ideas, get seen.
Seek constructive criticism – Be willing to admit that you don’t know everything and want to learn more. Ask questions, solicit feedback, and be ready to embrace the idea of making changes. Give your mentor permission to provide negative feedback by asking “what can I do to improve?” or “what am I lacking?”
Follow through – Take your mentor’s advice seriously, continually work on development, check in frequently, and don’t leave anything to chance. Be intentional and consistently work to make progress.
There’s value in being mentored by both men and women
While female leaders can offer insight into being a successful woman in the tech arena, you can learn from men as well. In many areas of the tech industry, men still dominate and are the ones in the best position to effect change. They often have more experience and more exposure to the inner workings of the field, just by virtue of being in the majority. Having a male mentor can provide insight into alternative perspectives, different approaches to problem-solving, new stances on decision-making, and differing methods of collaboration.
The same holds true for men having a woman mentor. Benefits to men who mentor women include the same fulfilment and rewards as mentoring men, but they might also become more aware of their unconscious biases, and could become more sensitive to issues and challenges women face in building their tech careers. Women who select male mentors contribute to their mentors’ growth as well. Mentoring provides opportunities to develop listening, perspective, self-knowledge, compassion, and courage — all of which enable the mentor to be a better leader in their own right. Having a mentor prepares women to one day step into the female mentorship role themselves.
Qualities to keep in mind when you’re looking for a mentor
A mentor is someone who:
- has the experience you’re lacking and is willing to pass that experience on to you
- has a successful career you admire and respect, in a field they are passionate about
- has the desire, energy and time to meet with you and offer guidance
- is friendly, a good listener, and interested in encouraging others.
Bonus points for someone who has been mentored in their past, because they’ll have a clearer understanding of the value of such a relationship.