“If I have seen further than others, it is by standing upon the shoulders of giants.”
— Isaac Newton
After leaving my first job as a back-end developer, I spent 3 months living off of my savings while questioning whether there was a future for me in Tech. Studying Computer Science had not been a good experience and joining the workplace hadn’t shifted that by much; I was ready for a career change.
With a few weeks left before my savings ran out, I attended a meetup on a topic I can’t recall and met a German gentleman who had a great passion for software development. We traded stories and contact information and within 2 weeks started working together at what later became Uber-5.
I was at Uber-5 for 2 years and during that time I received the support and space I needed to grow into a confident and capable developer, all while reigniting my passion for software and opening my eyes to its potential to create lasting change in the world. With the help of a good mentor, you can often save yourself years of learning. I credit this period, spanning early 2015 till early 2017, with 80% of the growth I experienced up to that point since my arrival in Cape Town in 2011.
Reading is a great way of scaling your knowledge, writing is good at scaling your thinking and mentoring for scaling your experiences. If you are fortunate enough to have an engaged and knowledgeable mentor you stand a good chance at putting your growth into hyperdrive. To increase this likelihood, here are a few things I invite you to consider:
1. Take accountability.
Scheduling meetings, setting the agenda, taking notes and asking specific questions is your responsibility as the mentee. This not only proves your commitment but also provides context that unlocks knowledge past shallow and generic advice.
2. Close the loop.
After receiving action points be sure to act quickly and provide feedback in a timely manner. This further solidifies your commitment to your own development and opens up opportunities for further guidance.
3. Pay It Forward.
Mentorship, when done well, should not result in a one-sided relationship. Be deliberate about providing value in return as the mentee; your lived experiences have value, cultivate the confidence of offering your perspective and insights. We learn more deeply when we find opportunities to share with others.
I’ve had many mentors in my life and I’m grateful for each and every one of them. When you encounter such an opportunity, do yourself the honour of taking full advantage of what it brings.