Silicon Valley & Mentoring in tech

September 30, 2019

Mentoring in the tech industry


Mentoring can be a powerful tool for change and growth. Under the right mentor, a mentee is able to expand their capabilities and realize their potential. Mentors are those who have the experience, wisdom and skills to help you achieve your goals. 


When it comes to the tech industry, mentorship can be the difference between success and failure. Given the vast amount of competition in the industry and Silicon Valley, in particular, mentoring programs are excellent ways to overcome diversity issues and help develop leadership skills in yourself and your employees. Research has shown that startup founders who have a mentoring relationship are more likely to become top performers


However, it is important to know what to look for in a mentor. Given today’s digital world, the opportunities for mentorship have expanded as well. E-mentoring can be the best way to connect with a talented and experienced expert who may not be located in the same region or even country. 



Mentorship as a leadership development platform

Workplace mentorship has traditionally been focused on developing leadership skills in younger employees. Although it has changed a little over the years, developing leadership capabilities in the tech industry is still one of the major benefits of a mentoring program. 


“In the technical fields mentoring is very important and in good companies, it is structured, in more of a professor-postgrad kind of setup. I'm sure you'll find this happening at Intel, Google etc. I see it a lot both here and in Asia (China, Japan, India),” Richard Miller, VP of R&D at Atari, said. 


When it comes to turning a startup into a top-performing company, having the right leadership skills are key.  Essentially, developing goals and creating steps to get there as well as the networking opportunities that mentorship offers can help unlock success. During a mentoring experience, skills like communication, goal-setting, training and advising all help mentees develop their talents and knowledge-base. 



Find a qualified mentor

Relationships are key to mentorships. Therefore, it is important to find the best mentor for you. There are many things to look for in a mentor, including:


1.Experience: Mentors who have worked in the industry for a long time are often the ones with the most skill and wisdom. However, in Silicon Valley, the average age in the tech industry is 30 years. This means it is important not to confuse age with experience. There are many talented and skilled younger workers and there are also very talented older workers in the industry. It is helpful if they have been with the company for several years as well. This ensures that they understand the culture and how each department works together. 

2.Commitment: Individuals who value the role of mentoring make the best mentors. They need to be committed to taking on the extra work involved with mentorship. Mentoring requires time and energy. Pick someone who is willing to put in the effort. 

3.Communicator: Good communication skills are key to mentoring and to be successful in general. A mentor needs to know how to effectively deliver constructive criticism to a mentee. Being a good communicator also helps the mentor guide the mentee in the most positive way. 

4.Positive: A good mentor is one who can see the bright side of situations. They are the ones who often see the opportunity in a problem. These mentors are not only good role models but they are also the best advisors. 


“The most important thing about being a mentor is the sense of impact and accomplishment,” Avram Miller, who co-founded Intel Capital, said. “I have and do mentor women as well. I don't think there is anything special about high tech and mentoring. Also, some great managers were not great mentors”. 



E-mentoring solution

Thanks to advances in technology, workplace mentoring programs are better able to help mentors, mentees and organizations get the most from the mentorship experience. These tools include mentoring software and e-mentoring opportunities. 


E-mentoring allows mentees to connect with skilled mentors in other parts of the country or the world. Mentors and mentees communicate via email or video conference but it can also take advantage of other tech tools like recorded audio messages, chatrooms or IMs. 


One of the best elements of e-mentoring is that it is not as demanding on a mentor or mentee’s time. Messages, phone calls and emails can all be sent and read when the participant has the time. There are ample apps available to aid the e-mentoring process


Another advantage is the ability to tap into talent from around the globe. There are many niches in the tech industry and finding an expert who understands your particular goal or startup focus can be difficult if you are limited to your region. This means you can find a mentor in Toronto, London, Amsterdam or Singapore. 


Conclusion

Many organizations and startups have come to see the advantages that mentorship can have for their workplaces. The benefits of workplace mentoring programs are broad and can include developing leadership capabilities, growth opportunities or an environment of innovation.

Mentoring in the tech industry has become a positive trend that can help a Silicon Valley startup succeed where it might otherwise fail. Well-designed workplace mentorships can also target issues like diversity, such as getting more women into top tech careers. Both of these are good reasons to consider starting or expanding mentorship at your company. 


If you are looking to start a workplace mentoring program, find out how Together can make things easier. 





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