Women in Tech Mentoring

What is Mentoring?

Mentoring is a professional relationship in which an experienced person (the mentor) provides guidance, support, and advice to another person (the mentee). The mentor-mentee relationship is built on trust and mutual respect and should be based on the shared goal of helping the mentee reach their potential.
 

What are the Benefits of Being a Mentor?

Being a mentor can be one of the most rewarding experiences of your career. You get to share your wisdom and skills with someone who is looking to learn, and in doing so, you help them grow and develop. But being a mentor isn’t just about helping others; it’s also about helping yourself. Here are four benefits of being a mentor:

  • You learn new skills and keep up with current trends
  • You build relationships with other professionals
  • You feel good about giving back to the Women in Tech community
  • You increase your visibility and networking opportunities
  • You receive a WomenTech Network certificate
     

What does a Mentor do?

A mentor provides guidance, support, and advice to their mentee. They help them navigate their career, identify opportunities for growth and development, and provide advice on how to overcome challenges.

As a mentor, you may undertake the following activities:

  • Advises the mentee on a certain topic
  • Facilitates the mentee's development by sharing knowledge and connections.
  • Challenge mentees to exceed their limits.
  • Encourages to take risks in a safe environment.
  • Focuses on the mentee's overall growth.

Here are some best practices for both mentors and mentees:

  • Be open and honest with each other
  • Keep communication lines open
  • Be respectful of each other’s time
  • Set clear expectations
  • Be flexible
  • Make sure there is a mutual commitment to the relationship
     

What Does a Mentor NOT Do?

A mentor is not a personal coach or therapist. They are not responsible for solving all of their mentee’s problems or fixing their life. A mentor is there to provide guidance and support, but ultimately it is up to the mentee to take action and make decisions.

Here are some things that a mentor should not do:

  • Tell their mentee what to do
  • Make decisions for their mentee
  • Do the work for their mentee
  • Try to be a friend
  • Give unsolicited advice
     

What are the Benefits of having a Mentor?

Being a mentee has many benefits. A mentor can help you navigate your career, identify opportunities for growth and development, and provide advice on how to overcome challenges. A mentor can also introduce you to their network of contacts, which can open up new doors for you. And finally, a mentor can help boost your confidence by believing in your potential.

Some of the benefits of having a mentor include:

  • Gaining new skills and knowledge
  • Improving your performance at work
  • Learning how to network and build relationships
  • Developing a stronger sense of self-confidence
  • Making better career decisions
  • Increased job satisfaction
     

Getting Started

How often should we meet?

We recommend meeting at least once a month. Depending on your availability and commitment, you may suggest a different frequency schedule during the initial meeting.

Please provide the mentee with a Calendly or similar meeting booking link to simplify the process of scheduling. Alternatively, set a specific day of the month and create a recurring calendar entry and invite your mentee.

What is the best way to communicate?

Phone, video call, messaging, email, in-person, ...

It's critical to agree on how you'll communicate in your first meeting and to establish ground rules to avoid misunderstandings like unexpected Saturday night calls.

Agree on one specific messaging channel to share updates and follow up.

The Initial Meeting

For Mentees: Keep it short and sweet. This is the most important part of a good introduction. What's your professional background and where are you at now? Clearly state what you want to talk about in future conversations. Give your mentor some background so he or she can understand you better. Share your professional objectives, as well as any relevant aspects of your personal life situation.

For Mentors: In the initial meeting, get to know your mentee. Try to understand their professional objectives and what they are looking for in a mentor. Talk about your career journey and how you might be able to help them. Discuss your expectations for the mentor-mentee relationship, as well as any ground rules you may have.
 

Get Specific - Goal Setting

Both mentor and mentee should agree on specific goals for the relationship, they should be SMART: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound. Use this template to track your goals as a mentee.

Here are three example goals:

Example #1: Improve presentation skills

Improve presentation skills and become a confident speaker in 3 months.

S: The objective is to enhance the leader's capacity for holding efficient meetings and delivering persuasive presentations.

M: The measurable action is getting a speaking slot at a tech conference.

A: This goal is to be achieved by dedicating an hour a week to prepare, practice, and seek feedback.

R: Feeling more confident during regular meetups, internal events, and webinars. 

T: The mentee has 3 months to complete this goal.

Example #2: Get promoted

Get promoted to a senior engineer position in the next 12 months.

S: The objective is to get promoted from Staff Engineer to Principal Engineer.

M: The measurable action is writing and implementing a new technology strategy for the company.

A: This goal is achieved by dedicating 10 hours a week to working on the project.

R: The mentor provides feedback on the project and meets with the mentee regularly to discuss progress.

T: The mentee has 12 months to complete this goal.

Example #3: Switching careers

I want to switch careers from marketing to product management in 6 weeks.

S: The objective is to switch from a career in marketing to one in product management.

M: The measurable action is to research 3 different product management roles and reach out to at least 1 person in each role for informational interviews.

A: This goal is to be achieved by dedicating 2 hours per week to researching and networking.

R: The mentor will guide how to use LinkedIn and other resources for networking most effectively.

T: The mentee will have 6 weeks to complete this goal.
 

Additional Tips:

Have your goal-setting conversation early on in the relationship. This will help to set clear expectations for both parties and provide a framework for future conversations.

How to Give Feedback

Giving feedback is one of the most important aspects of being a mentor. It can be difficult to give constructive feedback in a helpful, but not hurtful way. Here are some tips to keep in mind when giving feedback:

Be clear and specific - General comments like "you're doing a great job" or "keep up the good work" are not as helpful as specific comments about what the mentee is doing well. For example, "I really appreciate the way you presented your ideas in the last meeting" or "I noticed that you've been working hard to improve your coding skills, and it's really paying off."

Focus on the behavior, not the person - It's important to give feedback about the mentee's behavior, rather than making comments about

Pro-Tip: Goals should be reviewed and updated regularly to ensure they are still relevant and achievable.

Regular Meetings

It's important to have regular check-ins with your mentee to ensure they are on track to achieving their goals.

In these meetings, the mentor can provide guidance, feedback, and support as the mentee works towards their goals. The mentee can share any challenges or successes they have experienced since the last meeting.

Topics for Mentors and Questions to ask Mentees

The following questions will help you encourage a productive mentoring conversation.

1. Desired Career Path and Professional Goals

  • What do you want out of your job?
  • How does your current role fit into your long-term professional objective?
  • What's lacking (if anything) from your current position or career path?
  • What is your ideal job, or do you believe you've already achieved it?

2. Identifying Mentee's Weaknesses & Strengths

  • What are your greatest talents/strengths?
  • Is your current position best suited to take advantage of your strengths?
  • What weaknesses do you have that prevent you from performing your job duties fully?
  • What methods do you use to compensate for your shortcomings?

3. Leadership advice (If you have a mentee who has recently been promoted to a leadership position)

  • How would you describe your leadership style?
  • What techniques are you using to communicate effectively with your team?
  • What is your main challenge as a leader?

4. Mentee’s long and short-term goals to help the mentor assist in developing an action plan.

  • What specific goals do you want to accomplish within the next 1 to 3 months?
  • How do you envision my role in helping you accomplish your goals?
  • What are your metrics for career success?

5. Other

  • What prompted you to seek out a mentor?
  • What skills do you want to improve?
  • What challenges are you currently facing at work?

Topics and Questions for Mentees to Ask Mentors

1. Career Story Topics

  • What was your first job in the tech world?
  • How did you get to where you are now?
  • Who were some of your key role models while growing up?

2. Leadership advice (If you're thinking of getting into a leadership role or just started)

  • Which leadership skills were the most difficult for you to develop?
  • What daily, weekly, or monthly routines help you to get more done and improve your productivity?
  • How can I broach the topic of a promotion with my manager?
  • How do you delegate as a team leader (tools, tricks, techniques)?

3. Navigating a corporate organization

  • Who are the individuals I'll need to collaborate with to take on a leadership position?
  • How did you become more strategic at work?
  • What should I know about FAANG structure or culture to get hired?
  • How do you navigate change in the workplace?

4. Other

  • If you could go back and tell your younger self one thing, what would it be?
  • Why did you decide to become a mentor, and what are your expectations for our mentoring relationship?
  • What professional accomplishments, whether it be overcoming difficulties to advancing in your job, are you most proud of?
     

Ending Mentoring

It's a good idea to discuss with your mentee the terms for concluding the mentoring and agree on a "no blame, no explanation" exit on mutually acceptable terms at any time if either party asks it. You'll reduce the chance of stress levels exploding when you set clear expectations. Some mentoring relationships extend over months or years, whereas others last for shorter periods of time.

Both parties should only continue the mentoring relationship if they can commit equally to it and if it is achieving the goals talked about in the first meeting. The end of the mentor-mentee relationship should be seen as an opportunity to learn from what did and didn't work, and more importantly, to focus on all that was accomplished. Both partners should celebrate their successes, acknowledge any failures openly, and conclude the journey with positive sentiment.
 

Celebrating, Appreciating, and Giving Recommendations on LinkedIn

Appreciate your mentor and celebrate your successes with your mentee by writing a LinkedIn recommendation. This is a great way to show your mentor how much you appreciate their time and effort, while also helping boost their credibility.

When writing a recommendation, focus on the following topics:

-What was it like working with your mentor?

-What specific skills or attributes do they possess that made them an effective mentor?

-What impact did their mentoring have on you or your career?

-Would you recommend them as a mentor to others?

Be sure to include examples to illustrate your points, and keep the recommendation positive and professional. LinkedIn recommendations are public, so only write one if you're comfortable with everyone seeing it. If you're not ready to write a public recommendation, you can always send a private message or email to your mentor expressing your appreciation.
 

Recommendation Examples To Get Inspired From

"Mentoring Jane was a great experience. She was always willing to try new things and take risks. She was also open to feedback and took it constructively. I could tell that she really wanted to grow and develop as a leader. "
 

Mentor Recommendation Examples To Get Inspired From

"My mentor, Emma, was extremely helpful in guiding me through my career goals. She is an excellent listener and helped me ask the right questions to advance in my career. I would highly recommend Emma and the WomenTech Network Career Mentoring Program to anyone looking for a mentor."
 

Reflection on the Mentoring Relationship

What went well?

What didn't go well?

What would you do differently next time?

If you could change one thing about the mentoring relationship, what would it be?
 

Final Thoughts

The mentor-mentee relationship can be a rewarding experience for both parties. By openly and honestly communicating with each other, you can set and achieve goals, learn new skills, and build lasting relationships. As the mentor, you have the opportunity to pass on your knowledge and expertise to someone eager to learn. And as the mentee, you can gain invaluable insights into your career, industry, and life in general.

Now that you've read our guide on how to build an effective mentor-mentee relationship, it's time to put your new skills into practice. Remember to celebrate your successes, be open and honest with each other, and stay positive throughout the mentoring relationship. Congratulations on joining our program and we’re looking forward to your success stories!

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Wednesday, September 7, 2022 By Women in Tech Editor