Read any “how to get ahead” type book and the vast majority of them will recommend that you find a mentor. A mentor is an advisor. They’re someone that you trust, look up to, and in many cases they’re someone that you want to emulate. They have knowledge, experience, advice, and resources that can help you grow professionally.
Those same professional advancement books are right in that mentoring can be great for your career. However, they often miss one of the most valuable parts of mentoring, and that is to become one yourself. Let’s take a look at the reasons why it can be such a useful career move.
1. It Forces You to Learn – When you mentor someone else, you can’t be lazy about it. You have to not only learn how to be a good mentor, you have to learn more about your company, your industry, and your resources. To be able to provide the best information to your mentee, you have to brush up on your knowledge. That information, and what you learn, will be useful to your career. It’s practically guaranteed that if you become more knowledgeable about your company and/or your industry, that knowledge will be applied almost instantly to your own career.
2. It Makes You a Better Communicator, and Leader – In the technology industry there are certain skills and abilities that are taken for granted. Most technology professionals are knowledgeable about their respective tech topic. What many, perhaps even you, lack are practiced communication and leadership skills – both of which are immensely useful as you begin to advance your career. Whether you move into management or entrepreneurship, being able to communicate with your team and lead your peers is imperative to your success. Mentoring forces you to become better at both.
3. Fine Tune Your Own Career Goals – When you mentor someone it also makes you think more about your current and future career path and goals. That’s never a bad thing. It’s easy to become complacent, especially when you enjoy your job and are earning a salary that you feel comfortable with. Mentoring helps kick you back into gear. It’s motivating and often eye opening. You’re able to pay closer attention to what’s going on in the industry and where there may be opportunities.
Mentoring, of course, is a lovely way to give back. It makes you feel good to help others. It’s also a great way to feel reignited about your industry, to help you freshen up your knowledge and skills, and to learn more about yourself and your industry. If you haven’t thought about mentoring before, it’s a terrific opportunity.