Whether you're considering a future in engineering, just starting out in your career or simply feel stuck on a plateau, an engineering mentorship may be just the thing to take you to the next level. Across all industries, mentorship has been proven to help professionals advance quickly in both their hard and soft skills. There's nothing more likely to send your opportunities into the stratosphere than to get yourself locked in with a dynamic engineering mentorship.
Mentoring creates a synergy that builds any time you're together with people who share your passions and interests. Here are five additional benefits of participating in an engineering mentorship program.
A person with what's called a "fixed mindset" believes that they are either "good at" or "not good at" certain tasks and skills. Since their opinion of their skills is fixed, they feel there's little they can do to better themselves. When they face challenges, they're more likely to give up, convinced that they're unequipped to overcome whatever problems they're facing.
The reality, though, is that we're all in the middle of the process of learning, development and change. Those who are able to recognize this dynamic and leverage it to their advantage are said to have a "growth mindset." When they're stuck, they find the motivation to struggle, learn and overcome.
"A person with a growth mindset finds freedom in their thoughts and beliefs. They understand that certain people have special talents and that intelligence varies from person to person, but it's also something that can be developed and increased with effort and hard work." (TechTello)
By positioning themselves in a mentoring relationship, engineers can better cultivate a growth mindset. This dynamic will benefit them for the rest of their lives, both in their careers and beyond.
Many engineers spend a lot of time alone, working through problems and struggling to dismantle roadblocks. This isn't necessarily a bad thing. The struggle itself often produces growth. However, there's no reason for them to spend literally years of their lives working through issues that have already been dismantled by others who have gone before them.
For engineers who are less experienced or newer to the field, the problem is twofold. They must discern which type of problem is which and know whom to ask for help. In an engineering mentorship program, however, mentees have a safe place to ask questions and a trusted person to whom they can direct them. As a result, they don't waste time fighting battles that are already won. Their growth accelerates exponentially.
When you're new to a skill or a field of study, you often assume that there will come a day when you will pretty much know it all. Once you've achieved this pinnacle of wisdom and experience, every avenue will be open to you, and nothing you try will fail. Of course, this is a pipe dream--particularly in the field of engineering. While there's certainly a continuum of knowledge and experience you'll gain over time, there's no one "boss" level that leaves you immune to guesswork, risk, trial-and-error and even failure.
Within the framework of an engineering mentorship program, you're offered a safe space to try new things, gain insights from your mentor and seek targeted help when you're stuck. You also gain a trusted ally to help you recover from mistakes and try again after a failure.
This last point is perhaps the most important one of all.
Research shows that even when young professionals are well-trained, they often experience a fairly wide confidence gap.
Even that "high" rate of 51 percent means that up to half of young professionals don't have the confidence they need to leverage their skills and experience in the real world. A mentoring relationship, however, can offer the kind of personalized feedback and affirmation needed to build the confidence that leads to empowerment.
According to the Harvard Business Review (HBV), everyone should build a network, even people who don't think they need one. While some might find the process of networking time-consuming or transactional, there is another, healthier way to look at it.
"When we reframe the activity as a way of making interesting friends for the long-term — a goal most intelligent lone wolves would prize — it becomes far more appealing." (HBV)
"Making interesting friends for the long-term" is a wonderful way to look at networking. It's exactly the sort of relationships that are fostered within the context of an engineering mentorship. When you're able to build strong connections with others in the industry, whether they're your current mentors or your fellow mentees, you'll find that these relationships are part of what will nourish and sustain you over time.
Within engineering, the programming field continues to evolve at an extremely rapid rate. Because of that, truly seasoned industry professionals can sometimes prove difficult to come by. While you may assume that you'll naturally find yourself an informal mentor within the context of your first job, the chances of that happening are slimmer than you might think.
"In the United States, nearly 40 percent of doctors have 10+ years of professional experience. By contrast, only about 25 percent of developers worldwide have more than 10 years coding experience. Most of those veteran developers have probably been coding professionally much shorter than that." (Stack Overflow)
That means in order to ensure yourself a shot at an effective engineering mentorship, you may have to go out of your way to do so. The good news is that although chances are slimmer in this industry than in some others, they're not outright impossible.
There are programs already set up to help you connect with an effective engineering mentorship.
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