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How to find a mentor for a career in tech

by Evalyne Ndanu

Finding the right fit in mentorship is something that doesn’t always come easy. It has proven to be a challenge to many.

Below are pointers to help you find a mentor for a career in tech.

Attend tech events, conferences, seminars, meet ups and hackathons.
There is profusion of knowledge when people in the same field are together. If you would like to experience the beauty of IT with the various fields brought together, events are the places to be. While at these events, network, genuinely listen to peoples’ stories and experiences, ask for business cards and share yours as well. I personally met one of the mentors I look up to in an African Women in Tech event. It was actually the first AWIT meetup in the country. In tech events there are different people who are at different stages in their tech journey, the whole range from beginners to experts in various fields are normally represented. What better place to find people that you look up to than in such events. It’s worth remembering that In the multitude of counselors there is assured safety.

Know the field and the kind of mentoring you would be interested in.
Technology is a very vast field. There are people who know exactly what they want from the beginning and there are people who don’t. If you don’t know exactly what you want, it is a good space because it simply means there is room for exploration. You get to learn the pros and cons of a certain field if you are involved in it. Personally, I studied Telecommunication and Information Technology, I was on the fence and it wasn’t clear to me which direction to take. I looked for a Telecommunication Internship and after a month, it became clear that it wasn’t my passion and neither was it the direction I wanted to take, after the internship I resolved to concentrate on the IT part and that worked for me. Be willing to find out what aspect of IT excites you and what kind of help you would require. For example, if you have built a website for the first time, you can seek an experienced web developer and request for them to look at the site you developed and give you feedback.

Have a portfolio that you can reference.
A portfolio is a collection of projects that you have been involved in. We build by getting our hands dirty. This means getting actively involved in any project we engage in. For example for programmers, it may look like having a GitHub profile and constantly updating it with the code that you work on. For graphic designers, you could have a collection of the designs you have worked. It could also be as simple as having a LinkedIn account. Of importance is to have a portfolio that someone can look at and map out how your journey has been so far. It helps in finding mentors that suit one’s needs.

Become an inspiration to others too.
It is important that we are not only consumers but also making contribution by being a source of refreshment to others as well. A mentor- mentee relationship is not meant to be one sided. The mentor learns from the mentee as well. Any relationship that is one-sided is not a healthy relationship. Inspiring others can be as simple as pointing out their strengths and appreciating them.
In the process of inspiring others, you may spark curiosity in them on what is different about you.

Pitch and be willing to make an investment, whether financially or time.
From our statistics on What is mentorship? We saw that only 14% of mentor relationships started by ‘Will you be my mentor?’ question while 61% of those relationships developed naturally, again this is not the rule of the law, either or method may work differently for various people. You can decide on which direction to take regards this. A pitch can be for example, “I am a final year tech student at the university , I would appreciate if you would walk me through your transition journey from school to the job market.”

LinkedIn is also increasingly becoming a platform for mentor-mentee relationships. Creating a LinkedIn profile is a simple task and you can build networks over time with your target audience.

“Show me a successful individual and I’ll show you someone who had real positive influences in his or her life. I don’t care what you do for a living—if you do it well I’m sure there was someone cheering you on or showing the way. A mentor.” — Denzel Washington


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