Mentorship in Tech

Tracy Roesler bio photo By Tracy Roesler Comment

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XKCD: Ten Thousand

I found an article in my medium feed today, one that really resonanted with me peripherally. The article was about how standard perks no longer work for tech companies. Granted, I’ve never been that interested in having a ping pong table at work, but the article focused on the importance of onboarding, training, and growth within an organization.

Which made me think – mentorship and training is really, really important in tech. Not just in your job, but within the community as a whole. (I’ve mentioned this previously in my article To Keep Women in Tech)

There are a lot of thoughts about this, and even more articles regurgitating those thoughts. Almost universally, everybody agrees that mentorship is GOOD. Some people also argue that you control your own destiny vis a vis mentorship – you really need to be the one accepting responsibility.

Mentorship also involves surrounding yourself with like minded individuals – other women who are also in tech. It’s important to participate in events for women in tech, a place where it will be easy to seek out mentorship opportunities.

But tutelage should also take place within your workplace. Not all companies have formal mentorship programs, but it’s simple enough to find somebody willing to take you under their wing. It’s best to have a formal structure, and if you’re interested in moving up the management chain to find somebody higher up within that organization.

However, gaining knowledge through your lateral co-workers is easier. In my company, that’s pretty much anybody within the organization. They don’t always have a lot of time, but if you ask them a question about something, they will find some time to explain things to you. Asking questions is how I learned about SNATing, and a lot about apache/nginx configuration, and also about awk (apparently, it’s pretty cool).

It’s important to note that I don’t believe mentorship or training necessitates a female only relationship. I have a lot of personal friends who have helped me develop “the pythonic way” and are plenty encouraging. Don’t limit your ability to learn new things because you think you have to have a female mentor. Training can come from everywhere, and it comes in all shapes and sizes.

Perhaps the most important thing in your training is that work with somebody who is actually letting you learn things. Not all mentorships work out, but it’s always good to keep trying, keep building relationships, and to keep learning.

Those are my sage words of advice. Don’t limit yourself in your mentors, have more than one, and find somebody encouraging who helps you learn. And if you forget, refer to this article. It’s a really good reference to let you know that mentorship can help make your workplace more enjoyable.

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