A colleague of yours has asked if you would be willing to mentor her. A woman who is younger or has fewer years’ experience than you.
And while you’re flattered, you’re also really busy. Mentoring might not be very good use of your time right now.
So you’re not sure you should agree to it.
Your colleague is already making good progress in her career. And you’re thinking you won’t be able to help her much.
Mentoring takes up a lot of time. It’s a busy time for you right now. And you’re thinking you shouldn’t add extra activity to your calendar.
Mentoring Other Women Engineers Has Positive Payback
But before you say no, consider that the advantages of mentorship aren’t just for the protégé.
By turning her down you’re denying yourself some significant benefits. For your personal and professional growth and your career advancement.
It may at first seem like too much extra time and effort. But the mentoring experience can be enjoyable and enlightening.
And the payback for helping another engineer be successful in her career is invaluable.
Here’s what I love about having a mentor:
- Getting insights and perspectives that I never thought about before
- Having someone to point out my strengths and uniquenesses
- Having a cheerleader and connector
- Having someone to bring my questions to and bounce ideas off of.
Here’s what I love about being a mentor:
- Feeling the power of having and sharing my experiences
- Brainstorming with a bright minded protégé
- Teaching lessons that can help others move forward
- Learning the culture and perspectives of upcoming leaders.
Let’s go deeper into what you’ll gain by mentoring other women engineers.
What You’ll Gain by Mentoring Other Women Engineers
Here are 3 ways you’ll benefit by being a mentor. Ways that you might find surprising.
- You’ll realize all the things you have to offer (and not just as a mentor).
As you progress in your career it’s easy to lose sight of what exactly it is that you’re contributing. What unique value you’re adding.
By mentoring others you’ll rediscover this about yourself.
You’ll realize the specific work you do and the specific strengths you have that are making a difference in the organization and the community.
In discussions with your protégé you’ll be reminded of where you started, how far you’ve come and why your work and ideas are valuable.
This is important for your self-worth for sure. But also to reinforce your goals and where you’re headed in your career.
- You’ll help in ways you never knew you could.
When you were asked to be a mentor your first thought was “I don’t think I can help this person.” That’s your inner critic chiming in.
She’s lying. Don’t listen to her.
You have experience and perspective – which is all you need to be a mentor. That, and a desire to help.
And you have much more than that. There are so many ways you will help.
It’s about growing as an engineer and a person. It’s about resourcefulness for life.
You offer your uniqueness. Your style. Tips and tricks and insights that no one else can provide. You can offer encouragement and affirmation. Which is so important for women engineers.
You help just by sharing and showing you care. And your protégé will benefit from all of this.
- You’ll learn from your protégé how to be a better engineer, leader, mentor and role model.
You’ll learn from your protégé because she’ll be able to mentor up. To teach you about new tech and a different culture.
New problems and issues. And new ways of resolving them.
It’s refreshing to get perspective from someone who has less and different experience.
You’ll see how your protege responds. How she applies your advice and knowledge.
And you’ll learn from that too.
You’ll learn about yourself. How others see and look up to you. What knowledge you’ve gained that’s useful for others.
The strengths of others and how to leverage them.
You’ll learn from the experience. How to hone your communication skills for difficult or sensitive topics.
How to ask tough questions and be trusted with people’s feelings and concerns.
Be a Mentor Earlier in Your Engineering Career
When you’re farther along in your career, you’ll reach a point when you realize how much you’ve learned. How much you know that others don’t know.
But you don’t have to be that far along in your career before you gain enough knowledge and experience to be a mentor.
If you’re still hesitant, let’s talk. Sign up for a strategy session and we’ll walk through what being a mentor means to you and how it can propel your career.
Consider all the ways you can help through mentorship today. With all the benefits for both you and your protégé, the effort is well worth it.
You’ll get to know someone you otherwise might not have met.
And you’ll advance your career because you’re a better engineer and leader for having been a mentor.
Next time on Her Engineering Career Podcast I’ll share some big lessons from my own career that will change yours: What I thought then vs. what I know now.
Be sure to tune in for Episode 115.