Last year I had the opportunity to participate in the Women in Analytics Mentoring Pilot and I’ve continued my participation in the program as both a mentee and mentor. Like many of us who are pressed for time, I’ve had to be strategic about what to explore and engage in when it comes to professional development and industry participation. The Women in Analytics Mentoring Program has been especially rewarding and has produced tangible, meaningful benefits in my professional journey. I decided to participate in the pilot because it was clear that I could benefit from a relationship with someone who had deeper experience in our industry than I did and was not a colleague. I was lucky enough to be paired with a mentor who is a leader in our industry and passionate about helping others grow professionally, @Tim Wilson. Over the last year (largely attributable to Tim’s support) I’ve grown in leadership and confidence and as a result I’ve been able to make a more significant impact on my organization and the goals we are trying to achieve. Along the way, I learned some things about kicking off a mentoring relationship and how to have a great experience. Two keys to success for me are:
Don’t go into a mentoring program without having clear desired outcomes. While it’s great to meet new people, there are plenty of networking opportunities that exist for that purpose. Be very intentional about both your reasons for seeking a mentor as well as your preparation for your time with your mentor. During your first conversation, lay out your desired outcomes, the topics you’d like to discuss and take the lead on planning and scheduling your conversations. Be over-prepared*, then you and your mentor can decide together if a more casual engagement will work. I wanted to make sure my mentor had a clear understanding of what I hoped to achieve so that 1. He could decide if he was able/willing to continue the relationship and 2. He knew that the burden of “work” wouldn’t be on him. Our relationship has continued beyond the pilot and has naturally become more casual as we’ve gotten to know each other better.
*Over-preparation also helps avoid the dread of not having anything to talk about, especially in the beginning.
BE OF SERVICE
As a mentee, you may have less experience than your mentor or you may not even work in the same functional area, but you can always seek to be of service. Whether offering up your skills for a project, being a second set of ears or connecting them to industry resources or people (or memes, gifs, silly websites, etc.) there’s always something you can do to make the relationship about more than your own growth. As a mentor, be generous with your time and know that you don’t have to have all the answers. It’s not your Google Analytics hack or R script that will have the most impact, it’s simply sharing your experience (whatever level you’re at) and giving your mentee an avenue for support that didn’t exist for them before.
So if you’re thinking of joining any mentoring program, first consider why you’re doing it, then commit, then find a way to serve. DAA has many resources for professional development but the Women in Analytics Mentoring Program is a great way to build new relationships with lasting impact. #WomeninAnalytics#Mentoring