Here’s Why Every Millennial Needs a Mentor in the Tech Industry
By Anna Johansson
Millennials are often unfairly given a bad rap for doing things that other generations also do on a regular basis. They’re easy targets and older professionals like to give them a hard time. So, this article isn’t meant to be a hit piece on millennials. Rather, it’s meant to expose something that’s true: Every millennial who has aspirations of being successful in the tech space needs an older mentor.
The Case for Mentorship in the Tech Industry
Finding a mentor isn’t as easy as simply publishing a Facebook post and asking people to surround you with support. It could work but it’s highly unlikely. You’re going to have to put in some work and actively seek out the right person. But when you find that person, you’ll enjoy all of the wonderful benefits a good mentor can provide, including:
1. Maximization of Strengths
Renowned guitar instructor Tom Hess believes that mentorship is required in order to be successful in the music industry. In fact, he believes it’s a requirement in just about every professional pursuit – but not for the reason you may think.
“A true mentor does so much more than merely tell you what to do or give you information,” Hess says. What a mentor really does is help you take advantage of the strengths you already have. They help you maximize your existing strengths and make sure you’re moving in the direction of your goals.
2. Safe Zone for Thoughts
“When you consciously engage in a mentor relationship, you develop a bond based on trust and respect,” SEO expert Caitlin Devereaux says. “You can have discussions with your mentor that you might not want to address directly with your manager, especially if it’s a topic that might impact your job or pay.”
That’s the beauty of having a mentor. You have a safe space for discussing ideas and topics that would otherwise be taboo or inappropriate in an employer-employee situation. It gives you a place where you can speak up without the fear of being negatively impacted.
3. Access to Contacts
When you’re young, you don’t always have the right connections. You may have a lot of head knowledge, but you probably don’t have the personal network needed to bring your ideas to life. With an experienced mentor, you suddenly gain access to a group of contracts that you otherwise couldn’t reach. This can be hugely beneficial in the long run.
4. Diversity of Thought
Former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is a big believer in mentorship. But she’s quick to point out how important it is to work with people who are different than you. “Search for role models you can look up to and people who take an interest in your career,” she says. “But here’s an important warning: You don’t have to have mentors who look like you.”
One of the nice things about having a mentor is that you’re able to expose yourself to new ideas and beliefs. This diversity makes you a better-rounded person and opens you up to new experiences that you otherwise wouldn’t have encountered when stuck in the space between your own two ears.
Mentorship Isn’t a Sign of Weakness
One of the most unfortunate ideas that continues to be propagated in the professional world is that mentorship is a sign of weakness. A certain faction of people like to say that aligning yourself with a mentor is a sign that you don’t know everything and that it’s an inadvertent admission of your limitations.
Well, guess what – it is! You don’t know everything and you do have limitations. The goal of finding a mentor is to help you overcome these deficiencies and become more successful.
As a millennial in the tech industry, make it a point to find a mentor who can encourage you and help you grow.