How to make a difference as a mentor in 4 easy ways
What makes a mentor stand out? We all have people in our lives that we find inspiring, motivating, and driven, but the secret to being a mentor is more than just enthusiasm (although that never goes to waste!)
From sharing their knowledge and expertise to providing constructive feedback, mentors are all about helping you grow in your career. Not only that, but by linking up and networking, you may get exposed to jobs in the hidden market, raise your professional profile, and learn from the mistakes and successes of a leader in your industry.
We’re not going to lie – finding a mentor can feel quite daunting. It’s a challenge many of us don’t face in our daily lives, and can seem unnatural or forced.
But the best part? We’ve made it easy with the Professional Mentoring Platform (PMP). Completely free for UTS students, PMP has 800+ mentors ready and waiting to connect with you. With no awkward introductions or long-term commitments, it’s mentoring made simple.
One of those such mentors is Tom, a Site Reliability Engineering Manager at Google, who was introduced to a current engineering student through PMP. For him, the opportunity to build a relationship with a student entering his industry was both inspiring and rewarding, all while working towards a connection with a member of the next generation of employees.
We’ve asked Tom to share his tips and experiences with PMP to see just how rewarding mentorship can be.
So, what makes a good mentor, and how can you be one? Read on for our top four qualities that makes a mentor stand out.
A positive attitude
Let’s be straight-up: networking is hard! It can be stressful talking to complete strangers. Plus, what’s more vulnerable than sharing your innermost dreams for the future?
This is why positivity in a mentor is so important. You shouldn’t feel like you’re going through the motions or completing a chore when talking to your mentee.
Showing genuine excitement and interest in a mentee’s ideas and questions makes a huge difference in building their confidence, and makes for a more collaborative and open relationship.
Tom enjoyed his mentoring experiences in the workplace so much that he wanted to find even more opportunities to share his know-how far and wide.
“At work, my teams regularly host interns and I have found that I enjoy exploring their future career plans. I started actively looking for a mentoring opportunity in the community: I stumbled across UTS, and found it straightforward to get involved.”
Honest and constructive feedback
Although positivity goes a long way, blind optimism doesn’t do anything to assist a mentee in their career. After all, your career path will likely look less like a straight line and more like a wibbly wobbly ride!
For Tom, it was important to not only chat through what makes a career, but what could break it too.
“My mentee and I have discussed the arc of careers in tech generally, and I gave a few examples of the kinds of things that had worked or not worked through my career.”
If a mentor is full of empty promises and positivity, their mentee won’t have a chance to grow, both as a worker and as a person. Mentoring is as much about support as it is pushing each other out of your comfort zones.
Of course, honesty doesn’t always equal productivity! Ensure your feedback with your mentee is constructive and gives them an opportunity to go away and take steps to improve.
A keenness to share knowledge and experience
This is one of the most important things a mentor can do!
It can be tricky to open yourself up to someone else, especially if you don’t know them well, and tell them about your career journey up to this point. But if you’re not willing to share with your mentee, there’s not a lot of room to move.
For Tom, this keenness to share his knowledge and experience with his mentee was one of the more exciting prospects of PMP.
“I wanted to do something that would give back to the community and help the next generation. I enjoy being available to give examples of what I’ve learned from my own career and hopefully help provide useful guidance and/or allay any anxieties about formative years of study and work experience.”
That doesn’t mean you have to give your mentee your detailed life story! It can be as easy as sharing one tip that has helped you in your career. Tom’s top tip for students in his industry is deceptively simple in this way:
“Follow your passions! It may sound a cliche, but it makes every work day exciting and meaningful – something to look towards.”
Leading with a growth mindset
It goes without saying that most mentors have more experience in their field than their mentee, but that doesn’t mean they don’t have room to grow themselves.
Recognising that your mentee will have as much to teach you as you do them will carry you far in a mentoring relationship – after all, every pro was once a beginner!
We see this clearly with Tom. When asked if he had any anything else he wanted to let us know about his experience with PMP, this is what he had to say:
“Nothing specific I can think of – I still feel like an amateur at this! 😊”
And what an opportunity for growth that is!
If you’re looking to build a mentor/mentee relationship, look no further than the Professional Mentoring Platform! The benefits of providing mentorship are countless, from improving your interpersonal skills to providing a fresh perspective on your career.
So what are you waiting for? Head to PMP and start your mentoring journey today.
Featured image courtesy of Unsplash
Lily Cameron is a writer and editor based in Sydney. She is a UTS Communications (Creative Writing) graduate, and current Communications Assistant at UTS Careers. She is passionate about telling stories, both hers and others’, and the way digital and social media is changing the literary landscape. Her writing has appeared in Voiceworks, The Brag, and elsewhere.
Site Reliability Engineering Manager | Google