Mentors for Your IT Career: How to Find and Work With Them

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If you’ve ever heard just one piece of career advice it may have been about finding a mentor to help you polish your path. But how do you go about finding a mentor in Information Technology and what happens once you have them in your contact list? There are plenty of reasons you should be working with a mentor, but it will only be beneficial if you know the right ways to go about cultivating this relationship. Here are some tips for finding and working with an IT mentor.

  1. Determine who you want to emulate. Okay, maybe Elon Musk is a bit out of the realm of possibility, but you can set your sites on a more local professional. Look at companies in your area and individuals who have been on career paths that match your ultimate goals. These are the people to put at the top of your list for mentorships.
  2. Ask them for a meeting. Next, you’ll need to get out of your comfort zone and be willing to contact them. Tell them that you are an IT professional and you admire their work. Tell them you want to meet with them to talk about their career path to see if there is any insight they can share with you. Go ahead and tell them you’re looking for someone who can be a mentor for your own career.
  3. Follow up with them. Once you’ve talked with them, make sure you follow up. Don’t leave them hanging after they’ve taken the time to meet with you to discuss your career and their experiences. Start out by sending them a thank you note that recaps your conversation and tells them how much you appreciate that they took their time to meet with you.
  4. Allow the relationship to evolve. Now, the real goal is to avoid trying to mold or steer the professional relationship in the direction you want. Rather, it is better to allow the experience to evolve. This may be someone you can email when you have a question or just someone you follow on social media and occasionally interact with. Or, you may meet with them regularly. Let this happen naturally.
  5. Don’t get frustrated if you feel challenged. Lastly, understand that a mentor isn’t there to tell you what you want to hear. If you feel challenged by what they say or suggest, it is time to figure out why you feel that way rather than lashing out at your professional mentor. This is a sign that you may need to work on something specific.

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