16 Industry Leaders’ Tips To Help Young Tech Pros Find A Mentor

Newcomers to the tech industry may be up on the latest tools and trends, but there’s no substitute for experienced advice when navigating the start of a new career. Some companies have structured mentorship programs that pair new and younger team members with their more experienced colleagues. However, in many cases, new tech professionals are on their own if they’re looking for a mentor’s guidance.

Fortunately, experienced industry leaders say, there are plenty of seasoned professionals in technology companies and industry groups who are more than happy to share their knowledge with newcomers (and to learn from the next generation themselves). Here, 16 members of Forbes Technology Council share their tips to help young tech professionals find a mentor.

1. Make Time For Networking

When starting your career, it’s tempting to keep your head down and focus on your work, but your job and career are two different things. Go to meetings and conferences and follow new people on LinkedIn—you’ll be surprised how many mentors you meet. Your company should recognize the importance of mentorship and professional development and help you make connections. -Potoula Chresomales,Skillsoft

2. Don’t Be Afraid To Ask For Help

If you have an open mindset and are asking for help, then people will be eager to help you. Don’t be afraid to be vocal that you’re seeking help, advice and mentorship. It’s part of human nature to help each other. If you’re open-minded, leaders will gravitate to you and will make time to help you either directly or through their network. -Martin Basiri,ApplyBoard

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3. Take A Close Look At Everything Your Company Does

First, start small. Successful tech companies execute across development, deployment, infrastructure, support, product/project/engineering management and sales. A young tech professional will eventually need to specialize in one of these for meaningful career growth. Next, pick a mentor who can help provide visibility into each of these functions so you can pick the one that suits you best. -Michael Kahane,OSARO

4. Make It Easy For Them To Share

While there are a number of reasons why someone will invest their time to mentor, one big reason is that you remind them of themselves in their early days. Most people have a need to share and to contribute. So make it easy for them to do so—and always think of ways, even small ones, to return the favor or to pay it forward. -Boyan Ivanov,StorPool Storage

5. Experience As Much As Possible

Get a sense for what excites you and where your ultimate passions might align. Volunteer to work cross-collaboratively. Expand your technical experience. Engage with new professionals. Much like that one great teacher who influenced and inspired you, finding the right technical leader will likely lead you down a path of professional and personal fulfillment. -Neil Lampton,TIAG

6. Attend Conferences To Build Relationships

Attend as many conferences as possible without fixating on finding a mentor. Meet new people, ask questions and share your interests, but don’t expect someone to immediately become your mentor. It takes time to build relationships, yet you can still learn from all the interactions you may have during tech events. Your network will grow naturally, and it will be easier to find the right person. -Konstantin Klyagin,Redwerk

7. Participate In Technical Communities

From my point of view and my experience as a Microsoft MVP, something that brings great open-mindedness, and reinforces important skills such as divergent thinking and teamwork, is to actively participate in technical communities. There are many opportunities to do so, such as participating in hackathons, giving a session in a Meetup or a congress, or even posting in forums related to one’s area of ​​expertise. -Miguel Llorca,Torrent Group

8. Be Clear About Why You’re Looking For A Mentor

My advice is to be clear on why you’re seeking out a mentor. What do you want from their relationship with you? Do you need help with your job search, or do you just want someone to bounce ideas off of? Make sure you know exactly what kind of support you want so that when you reach out, it’s clear what kind of relationship would be most beneficial for both parties involved. -Leon Gordon,Pomerol Partners

9. Look For Someone Whose Career Trajectory Matches The Journey You’re Hoping For

The best way to know the road ahead is to ask someone who has already traveled it. Identify someone whose current role or career experiences align with the career journey you aspire to travel, and then simply ask them if they’re open to and available for mentorship. Ensure you and your future mentor are able to commit to regular meetings (for example, monthly or quarterly). -Mike Lefebvre,SEI

10. Consider Pursuing An Internship

I highly recommend internships. Start early; you don’t have to graduate to become an intern, as some companies run such programs for high school kids! I like internships for two reasons. They help you understand if you really like the career you are pursuing, and you’ll see who those mentors are in their normal environment—not just their theoretical images. -Nadya Knysh,a1qa

11. Don’t Hesitate To Ask Questions

Don’t try to look like the smartest person in the room—being naive is okay. Have an appetite to learn all the time, and don’t hesitate to ask questions, even if they sound silly to you. Keep an eye on influencers in your domain, and seek them out for mentorship. -Suresh Sethuramaswamy,Microsoft

12. Don’t Miss Out On The Bigger Picture

If you’re starting out in your career, it can be easy to focus solely on your area of expertise. As a tech professional, this can often mean losing the big picture in service of understanding the tech stack better. Talk to salespeople, data engineers and customer success specialists, as well as to your engineering mentors. By getting a line of sight into the “why,” you’ll be better at understanding the “how.” -Lewis Wynne-Jones,ThinkData Works

13. Think About Where You Want To Be In Ten Years

Technology careers have many paths: engineering, technology, product, marketing, sales and so on. Young professionals need to know the direction to pursue and where they want to be in the next ten years. Once the path is identified, it’s easy to find people who have traversed the journey one wants to undertake and then ask for mentorship. Following a treaded path is the easiest way to career growth. -Vishwas Manral,Skyhigh Security

14. Pay Attention To Results, Not Words

Always pay attention to the results that your potential mentor has achieved. We often find ourselves fascinated by too-sweet tales of achievement, while in reality, words and deeds are very different. Being able to clearly convey thoughts and transfer knowledge is a significant mentoring skill, but it is crucial for your technology mentor to have a factual tech background full of trial and error. -Vasily Voropaev,Smartbrain.io

15. Find People Who Help You Navigate Business Through Technology

Slightly altering what my mentor told me more than 20 years ago, “Don’t make technology define your life; make technology enrich your life. It’s always the business that matters.” My advice is to find people who will mentor and help you navigate the business through their knowledge of technology. There may be many of them in your career, and you should always go back to them for a catch-up. They may still give good advice. -Spiros Liolis,Micro Focus

16. Leverage Today’s Flatter Organizational Structure

Young workers in the IT industry should leverage the flat organizational structure made possible by telecommuting. Many people were restricted to working solely with their immediate supervisors before the Covid outbreak. Taking advantage of chances to network with more senior employees is a great way for junior personnel to demonstrate their motivation and willingness to stretch their comfort zones. -Chintan Shah,Brainvire InfoTech Inc.

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  1. Good post! Learned a lot of new and interesting things for myself! I’m going to go give the link to a friend in my inbox 🙂

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