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What is Mentorship?

by Evalyne Ndanu

Recent polls on AWIT social media platforms  twitter and Instagram showed that 100% of the participants would like to receive mentorship or become a mentor. This percentage clearly acknowledges the exigency of mentorship.

Another survey from Olivet Nazarene University  showed that 76% of people think mentorship is important, but only 37% have one. It also showed that only 14% of mentor relationships started by the question ‘Will you be my mentor?’ while 61% of those relationships developed naturally.

Mentorship is a relationship that involves a mentor and mentee. A Mentor is a person who guides and supports another person. A mentor can be guiding one or several people.
A mentee is a person who receives guidance and support from a mentor. A mentee can also have one or several mentors. In a healthy scenario, the relationship is mutually benefiting.

Mentorship is inspiration. It creates an opportunity for mental stimulation.

Mentorship is vulnerability. It is admitting that you are not self-sufficient. It involves recognizing the need for other people. It requires openness, the ability to be transparent on various aspects of your life and/or work to someone and them to you. Vulnerability unmasks you. It not only taps into your strengths but also lays bare your unpleasant traits.

Seeking support and guidance from someone you are at the same level with is also mentorship. This form of mentorship could be from friends, family and colleagues who are at the same level as you.

There are different types of Mentorship.

Group Mentorship- A group mentorship is one in which a mentor has several mentees and they all meet at the same time.

One on one- This is the traditional form of mentorship. It involves meeting physically of the mentor and mentee. The time, frequency and venue of the respective meet-ups is decided by the two parties.

Online/Virtual- This is meeting on an online platform. It may be because of various reasons, for example location, preference and catastrophes like Covid19.

Peer to peer – This happens when the mentor and mentee are at the same level skill-wise and/or career-wise, for example a colleague in your department with whom you have similar job descriptions.

Mentorship isn’t limited to big titles and accomplishments. At any level you are at you can be an inspiration to someone. You don’t need to be highly accomplished to be a mentor.

My first mentorship experience was when I was in university. I was mentoring a group of 5 high-school girls. At the time I was only conversant with the basics we had learnt in school , nonetheless I was up to the task. Being a mentor meant that I needed to level up. I wouldn’t have poured from an empty cup, hence it pushed me to research more, read more and even network much more. To date, this remains one of the achievements that I am highly proud of and one that gave me great fulfillment. Regardless of the ‘hierarchy’, it is important to recognize that you have the potential to mentor and receive Mentorship as well.

Looking at mentorship from AWIT’S  lenses, AWIT empowers women in technology,  keeps people up to date with tech events and scholarships, invites guest speakers for physical meet-ups, provides a platform to network with like-minded people, guides on the Jobs and Internships to apply for and importantly it has a specific section for Mentorship on their website, ‘Become a Mentor’ and ‘Find a Mentor’. It is clearly on the forefront matters tech mentorship.

We invite you to join our community as we continue to explore mentorship.

The delicate balance of mentoring someone is not creating them in your own image, but giving them the opportunity to create themselves.” — Steven Spielberg

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