You’ve learned a lot throughout your career as an engineer. From having years of experience and growing on many teams to making connections and developing a long list of skills, you’re surely proud of everything you’ve accomplished.
If you’re considering taking everything you’ve learned and helping someone who’s just starting as an engineer, becoming an engineering mentor may be your next step!
- What is an engineering mentorship?
- The benefits of an engineering mentorship
- 8 tips to be an effective engineering mentor
- Free mentor meeting agenda templates
What is an engineering mentorship?
An engineering mentorship is similar to any other type of mentorship, but in this case, the mentor is likely a senior or highly established engineer who has experience developing a variety of skills. This mentorship is a learning relationship between a seasoned engineer with years of experience and a junior engineer or a developer just starting their career in the hope of helping them learn and grow while sharing their knowledge in the field.
Perhaps David Hoang, Product Design Director at Webflow, said it best in our interview with him for our Supermanagers podcast; he shared his opinion on mentorship, saying, “One thing I really recommend with people’s life when you think about mentorship is to find mentors who are at that next level so you can hear from their experience. If there is a case where you do have to get into that role, you’ll know what it’s like.”
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The benefits of an engineering mentorship
There are many benefits to starting an engineering mentorship. If you’re on the fence about having this type of relationship with one of your peers or someone you look up to in the engineering field, here are some advantages to keep in mind.
1Provides hands-on experience
There’s only so much someone can learn, in any role, simply by watching or reading how to do something. Nothing compares to having real hands-on experience, especially with the help of a mentor. Having an engineering mentor to work with side-by-side allows mentees to observe their skills and find areas of improvement.
A mentor can also share tips and tricks, recommend software, and help find solutions to bottlenecks that may come up. You never know what can be learned from a mentor and the experience they’ve accumulated over the years.
2Creates a growth mindset
Another major benefit to an engineering mentorship is that it creates a growth mindset. This mindset means believing that your abilities and success can and will improve with continued effort and learning. Instilling a growth mindset is crucial as you embark on a new job, face new challenges in your career, or even move across the country.
Having a mentor can help a mentee believe in their own abilities as an engineer or developer while assisting as they learn new must-have skills, find new ways to handle a high-paced job, and become a better communicator. No matter what gets put on their plate or thrown their way, having a mentor who helps them establish a growth mindset can help the mentee to achieve what’s around the corner.
3Expands your network
You never know who could be in your mentor’s network and to whom they can introduce you. From their past coworkers and managers to supervisors and direct reports, their circle can quickly become yours—and you never know which connection could help you grow, expand, or accelerate your career. Plus, you can gain credibility by association with these network members based on how you know your mentor!
Networking is a crucial stepping stone no matter where someone is in their profession. Especially as someone just starting in the engineering industry and who may have limited contacts or connections, a junior engineer or developer can significantly benefit from a mentor’s network. As a mentor, once you learn more about your mentee’s strengths, weaknesses, and how they’d like their career to evolve, see if anyone within your network comes to mind as someone who can be an asset for the mentee down the line.
Confidence sometimes takes a dip whenever someone starts a new job or one in a different field. As you help your mentee improve their skills, pinpoint strengths and weaknesses, share advice on the role as a whole, and teach how to be the best engineer possible, your mentee will likely gain confidence in their position–and people, especially their team members, will notice!
8 tips to be an effective engineering mentor
Becoming an effective engineering mentor doesn’t just happen overnight; it takes work, dedication, and a passion for the career. Here are eight tips to remember as you become the best mentor you can be.
- Use your network
- Hold mentoring meetings
- Help your mentee overcome blockers
- Work on removing feelings of imposter syndrome
- Foster rapport
- Recommend courses and readings to expand their knowledge
- Stay up to date with new engineering processes
1Use your network
As a mentor, you likely have a network of past team members, managers, or supervisors, and you may have met other engineers through social media, conferences, or friend circles. If this is the case, keep these people in mind and introduce them to your mentee.
There’s a reason people say, “it’s all about who you know” — sometimes it’s true! Take advantage of these connections along the way and consider to whom your mentee would benefit from being introduced. Once you know to whom you’d like to introduce your mentee, set clear expectations on both sides of the introduction.
2Hold mentoring meetings
When you’re an engineering mentor, discuss with your mentee the cadence at which the two of you should have your mentor meetings, and stick to it. Whether these meetings happen every month, bimonthly, or once a quarter, every engineer you mentor can have a different cadence they prefer. You can also recommend meeting every two weeks or once a month until you’ve learned more about one another and pinpointed the goals you both have for this relationship.
Remember to go into the meeting with questions to ask your mentee. Some to consider are:
- Where do you see yourself in three, five, or 10 years?
- What are you passionate about?
- What, if anything, is holding you back in your current role?
- How can I help you achieve your goals?
- What are you looking to learn from me?
- Is there anyone else in my network to whom you’d like to be introduced?
It’s in your best interest to use a meeting management tool like Fellow. When you do, you can effortlessly build great meeting habits with everyone you mentor, thanks to collaborative meeting agendas, real-time note-taking, and time-saving templates. Use Fellow to help develop an effective, long-term communication style with your mentee.
3Help your mentee overcome blockers
One of the primary responsibilities of an engineering mentor is helping your mentee overcome any challenges or blockers that come their way. Although it may seem easy to simply tell your mentee what they should do, instead, make sure you’re working together to brainstorm possible solutions or new paths to take. Don’t forget to celebrate when challenges get solved and showcase what was learned along the way!
4Work on removing feelings of imposter syndrome
No matter where you are in your career or what type of role you have within an organization, the feelings of imposter syndrome can happen at any moment. Your mentee has likely felt them from time to time, especially if they’re starting as an engineer.
Overcoming imposter syndrome isn’t easy, but it’s up to you to know the signs and help your mentee banish these feelings. Remember to give constructive feedback anywhere you can, like letting them know how their engineering skills can be improved, how to be a better communicator, or ways to become more organized.
Working on removing these feelings can help your mentee grow personally and professionally in various settings.
While being an engineer mentor means you’ll likely focus on your mentee’s current role and the skills that go with it, don’t forget to foster rapport and learn more about them on a personal level, too.
Fostering rapport helps the two of you build trust, strengthen your relationship, and learn what makes the other one tick. When you have this type of bond, the two of you are more likely to feel open about sharing ideas, asking questions, and approaching new topics.
6Recommend courses and readings to expand their knowledge
While it’s your job as an engineering mentor to teach your mentee new things and expand their knowledge of the industry, it’s not only up to you! Do some research on engineering courses in their area or further readings or research that has been published and find out what you can recommend.
If they take a new course or read up on recent findings, encourage them to report back with anything they’ve learned along the way.
7Stay up to date with new engineering processes
Engineering processes can change fast, so as a mentor, you need to remain in the know. Without the knowledge of new techniques and procedures, you’ll likely struggle to assist your mentee if they have questions or run into roadblocks. Staying on top of engineering processes also gives you a chance to show your mentee how you go about learning something new, which they may be able to emulate in the future.
Free mentor meeting agenda templates
Planning a mentor meeting but unsure where to start? Take advantage of these free templates brought to you by Fellow.
It’s good to be a mentor
Being an engineering mentor can lead to lasting positive effects for you and your mentee. It’s an excellent opportunity to help someone just starting their career, share the knowledge you’ve gained over the years, and stay in the know in a rapidly changing industry. Don’t forget to take advantage of your network and do your best to help in any way you can.