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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