Succeed at work

How to find a mentor

ft. Rob Spectre from Twilio

9 out of 10 Medium posts agree: you need a mentor. But what do career mentors actually do? How will they help you become a better developer? And how do you even find one? Twilio's Rob Spectre joins us to answer the tough questions!

What is a mentor & what do they do?

In your career, you'll interact with lots of people who can help you grow professionally. Coaches will teach you how to do things and impart particular skills. Bosses will enforce accountability & provide resources so you can get your work done.

Mentors help you develop into the person and professional that you want to be. They bring their unique perspective to the problems you're facing. They've probably been there and done something similar. They're not there to solve individual problems for you, but instead to help you think about them differently.

Mentors & software development

As a software developer, there's a tendency to focus on code and looking at things from the terminal. That's a pretty narrow view. A mentor will help you look at situations from a wider angle and ask you the right questions that get your mind working in the right direction.

How do you find a mentor?

Good news! You probably already have a mentor, you just don't call them that. Think about the people you go to for advice, or who have helped you out in the past. It's an informal relationship, so you don't need to codify it. That said, your mentor ain't your therapist!

You can definitely find mentors at work, but also through your hobbies or by volunteering.

And even though you work in software development, mentors don't have to be technical. You can get great advice from someone outside your field, company, or geography. It's quite valuable to have mentors who approach problems differently than you would. One of Rob's longtime mentors is a Merchant Marine!

Tips for being a good mentee

Build a constellation of mentors, who each have different perspectives and experiences. You wouldn't write just one test to cover your app—so why rely on just one person for guidance?

You don't need to setup a regular check-in schedule either. A short email about an article or a new project that your mentor might like is a good touch point. Every relationship will be different, but you should treat your mentor like a close friend.


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