Effective Online Mentorship
I’m dreading starting this article because I’m not sure how it will end or exactly what course it’ll take. I’m shy — my last published article was in February and to be honest, I’m not so proud of that. But I’m back now and that should count for something. Am I right?
I’ll give you a scoop on what I’ve been up to in the past couple of months. But before we get into this, I should give you a brief of what I’m going to be sharing with you. Today I tell you about my stance on mentorship and my decision to particularly mentor young girls in Tech. I am however open to anyone (female or male) who needs some piece of advice and is not in the Tech space either.
In January of this month, I launched an initiative with a friend Afi Blebo. This initiative is centered on women and girls in Tech. Its aim is to narrow the gender gap in Technology. We do this by encouraging girls to take up Tech-related disciplines in schools and to take up Tech roles as a career choice.
This initiative is called Because She Can. I’m passionate about mentoring young girls to reach their full and topmost potential but I cannot do it alone if the goal is to impact thousands of girls. Definitely not. Thus, we’re building a community under Because She Can where women will not only mentor young girls, but will participate in peer-to-peer mentorship as well. We could all use a helping hand. Exciting stuff, isn’t it?
BecauseSheCan | LinkedIn
BecauseSheCan | 206 followers on LinkedIn. Because She Can, So Can I | Because She Can is a family. Our Mission is to…
I mentor a few girls. I’m new to this one-on-one mentorship style and I want to make sure I do the best I can. I’m not afraid to make mistakes because that just shows that I’m learning. At the same time, I’m taking the responsibility of guiding someone’s life. I don’t have much room to ‘mess up’.
Let’s digress a bit. Still on the topic of mentorship. I’ve had two major mentorship sessions this year. My alma mater (secondary school) contacted me and my co-founder for an online mentoring session via Zoom, along with other old students. This panel was made up of alumnae in the STEM ecosystem. It was honoring to be called among them to share my knowledge on the Tech subjects I knew best. I hope it touched others to also pursue their Tech careers. The second mentoring event which held an even bigger crowd was at a secondary school where I got the opportunity to speak to a 100+ younger girls and encourage them on their individual journeys. You can imagine how nervous I must’ve been on these platforms. But I did it anyway. Because I just knew I had gems to drop. All I want to do is help others achieve their dreams — because nothing is impossible. It sounds like something we just say over and over. The reason we say it over and over is because it IS true. You can really pull through anything you put your mind to — Try it!
So back to my one-on-one sessions. I’ve been doing some research on this mentorship thing and how I can be good at it. Here are some resources I found helpful. It’s been incredibly hard to find resources on how to effectively mentor online. So, if you have resources do share with me.
From my experience so far, I’ve had to ask myself how much is too much and how little is too little? Sometimes I feel like I might be prying or asking for too much as a mentor. I’ve had these questions lingering in my mind. Maybe this mentor needs a mentor on how to be a better mentor haha. But I’ve read about how consistency in following up/checking up with your mentee helps to build trust and a better mentor-mentee relationship.
I’m also learning to be considerate and empathetic (after all that’s what my name even means). Even though our goals for the mentorship might be the same between mentor and mentee, we are different people from different backgrounds living totally different lives. That’s what makes us so special. Sometimes I might put ‘pressure’ on them to deliver a task and get irritated when it’s not presented within the agreed time. Instead of getting upset, I need to understand the reasons behind why the task was not delivered as expected. Sometimes reasons have been that the mentee did not fully understand the task at hand but was afraid to ask for clarification which led to delay. Other times, they can be genuinely caught up with life’s own problems.
The mentee needs to be encouraged to know that regardless of whatever they don’t understand, they can always and freely seek for help without fear of being judged.
I also need to build a solid plan of what should be achieved between the mentor and the mentee and for how long the mentorship should last based on the goals set. This needs to be discussed by both parties. But these things grow and take time — personally I’d like to carry on lifelong mentorship. So, we’ll see how it goes.
I communicate with my mentees via WhatsApp messaging and phone calls. Face-to-face meetings may not always be feasible — especially during this pandemic. Every week or two I do my best to check up on them regarding a task I’ve given out. I’m learning the ropes after each session.
A little bit of advice to mentees too:
It’s great when you find someone willing and freely offering to help you figure yourself out in life — whether professionally, personally or holistically. Don’t take it for granted. Often, people in this position are high achievers who want to give back to society and help others get to and exceed success points they have reached.
Don’t take their help and time given to you for granted because frankly nobody has time if they are constantly building a good life for themselves. Instead, they make time. Appreciate that time and show the necessary respect for their time and effort. Mentorship is a path tread together, never a one-man business. So, don’t be afraid to ask questions and learn as much as you can for your own good.
Happy one year of online publishing to me! I started in July 2020 and this is my 17th Article. Many thanks to every one of my 101 followers and 2 Medium publications I am a staff of. This journey has been worthwhile.
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