Find a Mentor for Your Coding Journey

Part of what gives us a skeptical, knee-jerk reaction to any self-help material is our natural contempt for the hollow do-gooderism of so-called guru’s: Predatory marketers who use the sort of vague, idealistic rhetoric that pyramid schemes are made of in order to cloak their fundamentally profit-driven nature. That said, by all means, be wary of idealistic platitudes and keep rolling your eyes when necessary. However, don’t let that turn you into a Gilfoyle; there’s a fine line between healthy skepticism and full-on cynicism. While dreams of driving your Lamborghini around the Hollywood hills are all fine and dandy, you don’t need to pay someone $67 a month to tell you to believe in yourself.

The word mentor should be taken with a grain of salt. A mentor is not some sort of supreme, all-
knowing being, but rather, someone capable of giving you the proper guidance to nudge you in the right direction. Most of us don’t have the luxury of accessing someone like Bill Gates or Elon Musk on the daily, in fact, they’re busy enough as it is. A person standing on a stage in front of a live audience is not a mentor. It’s your boss. It’s your senior colleague. Or someone close you admire whose footsteps you’d like to follow. Having a great mentor is an important first step in learning the ins and outs of how that person go to where they are today. Does that mean you should pester your boss or colleague with every detail? Of course not. No one wants an overzealous disciple. But chances are, if you ask for someone’s advice, they’re more than willing to provide it.

It goes without saying that mentors provide people with much-needed insight into the way things work: They know the ropes, therefore, are walking, talking, interactive books on the subject of how to move forward in your career. But do you really have what it takes to hear the negatives?

The things that are making you stumble and where you can improve. Your mentor is someone who will give you the hard facts — not just in terms of your job skills and knowledge — but also how to improve your relationships around the office and make an overall better impression on your boss and the people around you. When starting a new job, a mentor can be whoever you feel has been most friendly in getting to know you; Take advantage of it. Your mentor can tell you the ins and outs of navigating the social aspects of your company. People’s likes and dislikes, what subjects to avoid, how casual is too casual. All of these things can be difficult to gauge and contribute to one’s sense of shyness around the office. A good mentor will give you guidance on how to be affable without crossing the line.

A great mentor will help you maintain a strong focus, not just in your goal, but why you do what you do. Often times “Why?” gets mistaken for making a profit which is merely just a result. Having a strong purpose, cause, or belief is the difference between those who look forward to the weekend happy hour versus those who look forward to going to work every day. Though there’s nothing wrong with weekend happy hours… At the same time, you don’t have to be a corporate drone in order to love what you do. Like the cheesy saying goes, “If you love what you do, you will never work a day in your life.” The ideal mentor will help you find your purpose in the company, as well as give you company to the best weekend happy hour spots.

Think of a mentor as a tongue-in-cheek way of saying to surround yourself with people that will help you grow and inspire the greatness in you. Don’t be afraid to reach out to your peers for guidance. You’d be surprised just how thrilled people get when you demonstrate that you value their input and wisdom.

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