The technology industry is one of the largest industries in the world, and one of the fastest growing. But are you ready for a career in tech, and if not, how can you become ready?
There is no doubt that technological innovation is reaching into every single industry and career, and making a mark globally. The tech industry employs nearly 6.7 million people in the U.S., for example, with an average salary of US $105k, double that of the national average wage. Not to mention, this sector drives economies. In the U.S., for example, the tech industry accounts for 7.1 percent of overall GDP and 11.6 percent of total private sector payroll, according to Todd Thibodeaux, president and CEO, CompTIA.
As Paul Sallomi, industry leader, said in a recent interview
Now, we have reached a tipping point where cognitive computing, big data analytics, cloud computing, and the rapidly growing Internet of Things (IoT) are transforming businesses around the globe—including those outside the technology sector.
What does this all mean for those who want a career in tech?
Online learning portals like Free Code Camp, General Assembly, Hacckerrank, Udemy, and so on, make it extremely easy to train oneself for tech job readiness. However, online training is not always enough to succeed in the tech industry. When you want a career in tech, it’s useful to consider finding a mentor to take you across the gap between training and employment. Nowadays finding a mentor online has never been easier.
What is the importance of mentoring in the first place, though?
Mentors Assist In Upskilling
If you want to learn to code better or learn to code a new language, an experienced coder is the best person to help you, and finding a tech mentor is a useful means of doing just that. More broadly, the right mentor can help connect you, the mentee, with the resources that you might need to succeed, not to mention advise you on what specific skills you will need to work on in order to achieve your career goals.
Truthfully, sometimes you don’t even know what skills you might need, much less which ones to polish in order to get the job you’re after.
The tech industry is full of challenges and competition, not to mention ever-evolving technical requirements, hardware, software, and more. It’s easy to underestimate the stress involved in career-building in this atmosphere. Having moral support can make all the difference. A mentor is someone who will help support you through the difficult times, getting you to see and believe in your own abilities and opportunities and remain focused on your goals. Most importantly, though, they will help you see that there is always a way to learn more, to be the best you can be, and to succeed in any career you desire, so long as you take it one step at a time.
Whilst a mentor isn’t there for you holding your hand all the time, they remain a support for you in the times you need them – someone you can turn to in difficult moments.
Discovering Your Path
A large percentage of college graduates do not end up using their college degree in their professional lives straightaway (in Australia it takes an average of nearly 4 years to find employment in the industry in which you get your degree). Often this is because you just can’t know the direction your career will take in your industry, until you start working in the industry! This Catch-22 means that often, grads take whatever job they can get, and defer their industry goals indefinitely for the sake of an income.
This is a crucial “in between time” – between graduation and a job, between jobs, or between a non-tech job and a dream job. It is the perfect time to find a mentor. A mentor in the tech industry can help you to determine what you want to do in a technology career, and help you come up with a plan even if you are working in another industry for now. Mentors keep your passion alive! Oftentimes, a good mentor will help you find paths to a career in technology that you might never have considered. The entire market landscape is changing so much, that even jobs where there used to never be tech now rely on it: from home-building requiring 3D modelling to the medical industry, there are many little known niches in which tech-savvy people can carve a career either as a valued employee, or as a start up founder.
On this note, a mentor can help you discover when it might be time for you to explore taking your career in tech further, to get you out of a rut, to steer you in a different direction, or to accelerate your current career trajectory.
Career guidance is not the same thing as helping you find your path. A mentor can help you with the broader picture as well even whilst you are in a job, to identify new opportunities as they arise, to recognise when it is time to leave a job for a new one, what you need to do to get that promotion, and/or help you assess and act on other big decisions as you go.
A mentor should be someone that has at least a few connections in the tech world. They will be able to help you network with others in the industry. This is how you can discover new opportunities, learn more, and meet role models. Don’t ever underestimate the importance of a personal introduction. Statistics suggest that most companies hire internally and/or by personal referral. Only a much smaller portion of jobs are found through advertising on job boards.
What To Look For In A Mentor
When you are looking for a mentor, you will need to make sure that you get one that is right for you. If you need to find a mentor, here is what you should look for.
1. Someone with experience that matches your career goals/needs
It should go without saying that your mentor should have experience in your industry, and specifically in your niche expertise/job. Definitely check out their LinkedIn profiles unless you heard about them by word of mouth from someone you trust!
2. Someone who has been in your position
The best mentor has been in the position you are in or a similar one. For example, if you are after working in a supervisory or managerial capacity, the mentor that you choose should be able to advise you by drawing on personal experience in this area.
3. Someone you can trust
It is essential that you be able to trust your mentor. They should be someone with whom you are comfortable speaking candidly. As such, your boss or supervisor might not be the best person to receive mentoring from all the time. In other words, you should also be able to trust that your mentor is motivated by your best interests, rather than those of the company (if you work together).
4. Someone who enjoys mentoring
It’s best to find someone who enjoys the process of mentoring. That will make them a lot more ready to help you when you need it. Plus, negative attitudes are contagious and if the person who is mentoring you is negative about the process, you won’t get as much from it. They should be ready to help you whenever you might need advice.
How to Find a Mentor
Many companies and training organizations (like the Coder Factory) have discovered the benefits of their employees/students having a mentor and as such, partner new employees/students with instructors or those who have been around longer. However, startups and smaller companies don’t necessarily have the resources to run an in-house mentoring program, and of course, if you are a recent grad or between jobs, that option is unavailable anyway.
Here are some quick tips for finding a mentor in the world of technology.
Chances are that you already know someone who would be a good mentor. Finding a technology professor or a coworker is a good starting point. Make sure that the mentor you choose has experience in your niche, and can relate to the area that you are working in and the goals you have.
If you are lucky, you may even be able to reach out to someone on Quora or Reddit who contributes to tech discussions, and either swap mentorship/support, or receive it for free.
The benefit of finding a mentor on an online platform is that you can find someone from anywhere in the world with any amount of experience, driving the process yourself and choosing from a selection of committed mentors. You have a lot more options open to you. Of course, this is the entire purpose of Kindred’s platform!
In conclusion, with a mentor, you won’t have to navigate your career alone, and in an ever-changing and highly competitive industry like technology, it can be a crucial step to actualising your dream career. While it is no guarantee of success, it will ease your way considerably, and provide opportunities you wouldn’t have otherwise.
Searching for a Mentor on Kindred’s Platform
To search for a mentor on Kindred, just click ‘mentor’ in the search bar above, and type a keyword or industry into the empty field. You must post a request for mentorship if you want to find one! If you would like to become a mentor, just fill in your profile, with your offerings and pricing and you will be searchable, and able to contact mentees, help someone out, and earn a bit of money. Best of luck!