Mentorship is far too integral to career development to rush. Demystify the mentorship relationship – put in the time to decode this “black box”.

By Courtney Mayeda (Client Services Manager, Medallia)

While filling up on Chinese food and mingling at Rocket Space, home of numerous up-and-coming startups, attendees learned about the event’s sponsor – Hackbright Academy – an organization also dedicated to women in technology. Over the course of the night, speakers discussed the challenges and fun anecdotes of being a female coder, along with an intriguing and practical stance on mentorship.

Ultimately, everything was tied back to the night’s sponsor, Hackbright, whose co-founders encourage people who “want to shape the future of engineering and explore [their] passion for programming” to help by applying “for part-time hacker-in-residence and full-time instructor positions.” By joining Hackbright, people can further their cause to further gender parity in software development.

No matter your gender or job title, Julia Grace’s talk about mentorship resonated universally. A software engineer at Tindie, Julia discussed what she’s learned over the years from hiring (and firing) mentors. Everyone is talking about mentorship these days, but she had a different viewpoint on the topic.

We’ve heard over and over about the importance of mentorship, but what are the next steps once you come to that realization? How do you tackle the “black box” that is mentorship? Grace underscored five of the most important things we didn’t already know about mentorship:

  1. What is a mentor? A mentor doesn’t have a financial stake in your success, wholeheartedly believes in you, and gives you insight from a non-peer perspective.
  2. Mentors are busy. – Find several mentors who can help you with different topics; don’t depend on just one person.
  3. Put yourself in your mentor’s shoes. – Think about what drives them to be a mentor – realize they’re probably hoping to hire you someday.
  4. Find mentors through established relationships, oftentimes from previous jobs. – Start developing these relationships by requesting advice, without officially asking them to be your mentor.
  5. You may need to “fire” a mentor. – Not every talented person has the best capacity to help you through the specific challenges you face in your career, and your relationship with mentors may evolve over time. Don’t be afraid to ask people to be your mentors or to “fire” a mentor if the relationship isn’t working out or has evolved beyond their ability to help you.

Mentorship is far too integral to career development to rush. Demystify the mentorship relationship – put in the time to decode this “black box”.

Women 2.0 readers: How do you achieve success in all aspects of the business, yet tie together a complex organization and product offering? Let us know in the comments!

About the guest blogger: Courtney Mayeda is Client Services Manager at Medallia. She recently graduated from UCLA Anderson with her MBA in Technology Management/Marketing, and moved back to the Bay Area. Previously, she worked for Apple and Wells Fargo’s Online Sales and Marketing division, following graduation from Scripps College with her bachelor’s degree. Follow her on Twitter at @courtneymayeda.