Give Back, Get More from Your IT Career: The Importance of Being a Mentor

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Having a mentor can be a valuable tool in building your IT career, but as you gain tenure in the industry, you’ll want to consider serving on the other end of that relationship.

Mentoring an up-and-coming IT pro can provide benefits both charitable and self-serving. Think: Help others while you help yourself.

“In most of the successful mentor and mentee relationships I’ve seen, both sides are getting something out of the relationship,” says Steve Wright, senior account executive at eHire and president of CompTIA AITP Atlanta.

Consider these five reasons for becoming a mentor.

  1. Helping others = good.

    Call it the altruistic approach. Becoming a mentor—like other charitable acts—provides a sense of satisfaction. “It’s a pay-it-forward kind of exercise,” says Steve. “It’s going to make you feel good.”

  2. Be a happier employee.

    Especially if your mentee is within your own company, being a mentor can translate into increased contentment and loyalty to your employer. One study found that individuals who served as mentors reported greater job satisfaction and commitment to the organization as compared to colleagues who did not mentor, according to the Chronicle of Evidence-Based Mentoring. Helping to train the next generation of employees makes for a stronger company as a whole, which can make you feel better about your place of work.

  3. Build your leadership skills.

    As a mentor, you’re serving as a teacher—guiding a less senior employee through the political waters of a workplace and filling in knowledge gaps. Transferring your insights to a mentee helps you grow as a leader. It may even be something you could put on a resume if you’re pursuing a promotion or job change.

  4. Know the future generation.

    Mentoring someone from a younger generation allows you to get to know the next class of IT employees. That culture and approach from a younger generation will become an integral part of the working environment. They may introduce you to new terms, trends or technological tools. “If you’re looking at what you’re directly getting out of a mentoring relationship, I would say, it’s understanding what the future IT professional is going to be able to offer or bring to the table—and how you’re going to be able to better work with them,” says Steve.

  5. Expand your network.
    Taking on mentees can help you build your own network. Steve notes that a mentor/mentee relationship doesn’t always have to be between a senior and junior person. He says he’s seen mentorship relationships form between individuals on the same level, especially if one person has more direct experience to the issues at hand. When you develop those relationships, you’re expanding your own network.

Once you’ve decided to become a mentor, Steve says that one of the keys to having a successful mentoring relationship is consistent communication and a willingness to devote time to your mentee. If your workplace doesn’t have a formal mentorship program and you’d like to take on a mentorship role, Steve recommends letting the president of your local AITP chapter know you’re open to mentoring.

“That’s part of what CompTIA AITP is all about,” he says. “It’s about making those connections.”