Mentor in Tech
Our colleague Semen Putnikov has become a mentor in the Mentor in Tech program. He talked about the program, the motivation to participate, and the tasks of a mentor.
About "Mentor in Tech"
Mentor in Tech is a program for women who want to find a mentor in the IT field. My wife told me about the program. Being a mentor herself, she inspired me to participate as well. For the first time, I limited myself to one student to test my teaching abilities. Early in my career, my mentors at JettyCloud showed me that mentoring is beneficial not only for the mentee but also for the mentor. Working with newcomers forces you to rethink existing knowledge and discover gaps that were previously unnoticed. This, along with curiosity, are the reasons for my participation in the program.
How the selection process works
Mentees can have any level of experience and different goals, from mastering the basics in a new career track to further developing existing knowledge. Those wishing to join the program must go through a questionnaire-based selection process. This process determines not only their level of knowledge and motivation but also their learning preferences.
Once the mentee selection is complete, the mentor selection process begins. Mentors are divided into categories such as "Career and Leadership," "Technologies (Data Science, QA, Software Development, etc.)," "Startups," "Digital Marketing," "HR, Recruitment," "Project/Product Management," "Business Analytics, System Analytics," and "UX/UI Design". During the questionnaire stage, mentors share their experiences and what they are willing to contribute.
Mentors are required to have a minimum of three meetings with their mentees. The format of the meetings, the level of interaction, and the content are agreed upon between the mentor and mentee on a one-on-one basis. One mentor can guide up to three mentees. If you realize right away that you are not a good match with the assigned mentee, you can contact the organizers and arrange for a replacement.
What mentors do
My role in the program was to guide my mentee into the magical world of big data. She had a background as a petroleum engineer and a desire to transition into data analysis. She had just started learning Python and was getting lost in the abundance of buzzwords that fill our field.
During our first meeting, we delved into the basics of big data: we discussed existing roles and tasks. Based on her expectations from the program, we outlined a tentative learning plan. The second meeting focused on programming: Python, testing, environments, and answering her questions. For our third meeting, we focused on resume building and discussing various interview-related topics. In addition to our meetings, we stayed in touch through Telegram, and I would respond to any emerging questions.
What mentors gain
In addition to the direct work with mentees, mentors have several opportunities for self-improvement. Firstly, it involves networking with a diverse range of specialists participating in the program. All mentors are part of a chat where they exchange ideas, knowledge, useful contacts, and interesting courses. I witnessed people finding new colleagues or future startup partners. At some point, interest groups even formed in different cities, bringing together Russian immigrants (Belgrade, Valencia, Tbilisi).
The second opportunity is attending various lectures by invited experts. These events are organized by the program coordinators. They cover topics such as communication challenges in the workplace, role models, and many other subjects. Mentors can propose their own topics and present them as part of the program.
How to participate
Subscribe to the social media accounts of the movements: Women in Tech, Women in Big Data. These links belong to global movements. There are also local branches. Information about new mentor cohorts is posted on these pages.
It is also beneficial to connect with mentors from previous cohorts. You can ask them questions, and they will provide more precise information about when the next selection process will take place. Once the mentor selection process is announced, the organizers will inform you about the selection format. In previous years, they sent out surveys via email that needed to be filled out within a couple of weeks.
Once the organizers have reviewed all the applications, they will contact the selected mentors. After some time, your mentee will reach out to you, and the active phase of mentoring will begin.