When thinking about mentorship, often people think that mentees are the only ones gaining value from the experience. And yes, mentees gain numerous benefits, but you will be surprised at how much a mentor can gain from the experience too!
In life, both personally and professionally, seeking ways to develop your knowledge, learn new skills, and challenge yourself regularly is beneficial. Mentorship is one of the most valuable ways to do this!
One of the distinct reasons why people decide to mentor is to be able to experience the joy of seeing someone progress and excel in their career due to their guidance and advice. However, becoming a mentor also has the potential to help you progress and excel in your own career. Through mentoring, you can develop your leadership and communication skills and gain new perspectives! There are plenty of reasons as to why you should become a mentor!
1. Develop your Leadership Skills 💪
There comes a time in a developer’s career where they need to decide between taking a leadership position or a more specialised developer position. Even if you don’t decide to take on a leadership role, it is likely you would still be overseeing the work of junior developers. Taking a leadership position often seems to be the next natural step as you become more senior in your industry. However, many senior developers haven’t really explored which career trajectory they’d like to take. And even for those who have decided to take the leadership path, many aren’t sure if they’re ‘leadership ready’.
Becoming a mentor gives you a taste of what becoming a leader entails, but does so in a supportive, fail-safe environment. Becoming a mentor will teach you how to work with, and support, different types of people. It will give you an opportunity to practice helping someone understand where the gaps in their skillset lie, and providing guidance on how to develop their skills so as to fill these gaps.
2. Improved Communication Skills 🗣
Verbalising the learnings that you’ve obtained throughout your career and communicating them to someone starting out in their career can often be challenging. It requires you to develop an understanding of the other person’s perspective so that you are able to meet them where they are. Mentoring allows you to practice the skill of taking your internalised knowledge and communicating it to someone in a way that will be of value to them.
As a leader, not only do you need to learn to articulate yourself clearly, but you’ll also need to hone your active listening skills. Many people listen to respond, but when you do that, you’re potentially missing out on so much of what the person is saying (and what they’re not saying). Listening to your team members and actively trying to understand their needs, as well as the difficulties they face, is one of the key skills for a leader to have. The mentoring relationship is a great place in which to practice these active listening skills.
3. Gaining a New Perspective 🔭
The tech industry is very fast paced. There are new technologies and developments coming out every day. Along with new technologies and developments comes new ways of solving problems. As a senior, you tend to understand the problem through a very specific lens. Becoming a mentor can provide you with the opportunity to look through a different lens - the lens of your mentee. This is an opportunity, both to learn new ways of doing things, but also to learn about yourself and why you do things the way that you do. This process could also potentially highlight a few areas that you may need to work on yourself!
Mentoring someone more junior can also prompt you to reflect on how far you’ve come in your own career. Often, people don’t realise how far they’ve come in their career or how much they’ve grown until they start sharing these experiences with someone else.
4. Fulfillment of Giving Back 🙏
Sharing your knowledge and experience with someone who is just starting out in their career is great. Giving your time, energy and knowledge to someone who may not have originally had access to guidance can have a huge impact on their life and career. It’s often hugely rewarding for a mentor to see their mentee succeed in their careers, knowing that they had a hand in helping them achieve their success.
5. Advance Your Own Career 🏃♂️
Helping others is a substantial way to show your companies that you’re invested in helping others grow and succeed, which is an essential characteristic that managers need to demonstrate. Mentoring is a great way to show potential employers your passion for helping others, which can give you an edge in the job market. If you’re looking for a promotion in your current role, mentoring a junior developer can help you convey to your employer that you’re ready to take on additional responsibilities, such as leading a team! Mentoring is an effective way to show your employers, or prospective employers, that you’re actively taking the steps to level up in your own career.