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Simon Barker
Simon Barker

Posted on • Originally published at careerswitchtocoding.com

You don't need to ask someone to be your mentor

How to find a coding mentor is one of the most common questions I see asked by early stage developers and career switchers. It's not surprising, getting a mentor is a common piece of advice given to people in all careers: "finding a mentor will really help you progress to the next stage"

We even hear successful people talk about their mentors and the amazing influence they had on them.

If only you could find a mentor, right? You'd be set!

So, back to the question:

"How to find a coding mentor to help my career?"

It sounds like a big ask doesn't in? Saying to someone:

"Hey, would you mind helping me progress in my career while I have nothing to offer in return?"

Well I have a secret to tell you.

You don't have to ask someone to be your mentor, you can just decide to be their mentee and start being mentored. It really is that simple.

What does a mentor do?

You see, a mentor is just someone you can ask questions to and get answers that will hopefully help you on your journey. Which, if you think about it, sounds an awful lot like a conversation where one person is a bit more experienced in one area than the other.

In fact, because of this one simple fact finding a mentor is so easy and simple I can sum it up with a Tweet:

The most important bit for this to work is that last bit, don't treat them like your personal problem solver and make sure you give back in some way: buy them a coffee, buy their book, send them flowers ... whatever, just something to show you appreciate them.

We have built up such an aura around this idea of a mentor that we forget that "getting a mentor" isn't a silver bullet for success anyway, they don't do the work for you, they don't magic away your obstacles, the simply offer informal guidance when asked.

How can I ask someone to be my mentor?

Is there someone in your life you have being trying to ask to be your mentor and you're stressing about how to ask them?

Well, don't ask them! You don't need to!

Pretend you did and they they said yes, and skip to the questions you really want answered and start having a conversation from that point.

Heck, you could already have a mentor and not realise it!

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