Why I am a mentor

Yesterday, I took my two student mentees out to dinner.  I have two girls – one senior student who is about to do her first 8 month work term as a software developer and a second student who is just starting the computer science program.  For an hour and a half, we chatted over Japanese foods and tea.  The topics ranged from your regular pleasantries (“What are your holiday plans?”) to the fun (“Who’s the best professor at UBC?”) to the serious (“What can I do with my degree?”).

mentor

As a female software engineer in the video game industry, I occupy several niches.  There aren’t many girls in software engineering and there are even less in video games.  For those reasons alone, I think it’s important to share my experiences and show other girls that they can succeed in software development.

That’s not to say that I think we should artificially force more women into certain fields or positions *just because*.  But I do think that we should encourage those who are interested in a field to pursue it to the best of their ability, and mentoring is a great way to do that.  As part of a mentorship program, students can learn about their field of study, be introduced to the different available career paths, and start to make connections with people in their industry.

And as a mentor, I gain value from the experience as well!  I get to meet the next batch of up-and-coming programmers, I get to network with other mentors, and I force myself to think about and talk about computer science topics that I may have otherwise forgotten.  That makes it valuable for my career.

It doesn’t have to be career related either.  It might be something you do as part of a community or religious organization.  It might be something that you do just for fun – I’m sure lots of parents volunteer their time with local kids’ sports teams for example.  These are all forms of mentoring and are valuable in different ways.

Do you do any mentoring in your career or spare time?  What value do you gain from it?

Posted in: Career and Work

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9 Comments

  1. Jordann says:

    Those are great reasons to become a mentor, and I bet your menthes will benefit from having you as well. Good way to give back to your community!

  2. When I was just starting out working this year I had the luck of being taken under the wing of a veteran in the industry. That has made all the difference in my life and am always grateful for their help.
    Its a good thing you have taken to mentoring others, there is a certain joy that comes from showing them how to navigate the ropes and I also do plan on helping others along the way.

  3. eemusings says:

    Thanks for the reminder, I wanted to look into volunteering (possibly with new migrants) or mentoring now that we’re home! Added to the todo list.

  4. Jim says:

    Good Post CF, that is wonderful you are taking time to be a mentor, the world needs more people like you to provide confidence and a path to those who share the same interest. I too, am looking into becoming a mentor in the real estate investing forum. Great share!

  5. That is very generous of you to give your time like that. I had a mentor when I was in business school and it really helped. Now I will support a few girls from my village to pursue further education and I will follow up with their grades when they come back home once a month so they are accountable to someone, I don’t want to be just a checkbook.

  6. In my personal time I’m a financial mentor to three people. I discuss with them finances and help them budget. It is rewarding as my end game for them is financial freedom.

  7. I think it’s a great thing to be a mentor. I myself had a mentor when I was first “coming up” in my career and it was very helpful. I like to be a blog mentor but I am not a mentor outside of online in my day job.

  8. That’s really awesome you’re doing that. And you’re right I don’t think there are enough female engineers in the world. And video games is typically such a guy’s area. I mentored a young kid ages ago, but haven’t done it in a long time.

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