By Kevin Howell
Finding a mentor is important in any career field, and engineering is no different. Mentors can provide young engineers invaluable guidance and support early in their careers.
However, some people misunderstand mentorship or don’t realize its benefits. Mentors don’t just tell you what to do or hold your hand as you start your career. Mentorship is about building a relationship with someone who’s been in your shoes.
While some companies provide young workers with mentors, it’s best for you to find someone you look up to, build a rapport with them, and if they’re a good fit for you, ask them to mentor you.
Here are some benefits of having a mentor.
GUIDANCE IN THE WORKPLACE
Transitioning from college student to full-time professional can be challenging. You may have the necessary technical skills, but navigating company politics and adapting to the office culture is difficult.
Mentors help young engineers learn the ropes of the business, deal with difficult managers, and understand the unspoken rules of the company. Having an advocate in your corner helps you adjust to a new environment easier than trying to figure it out on your own.
EXPANDS YOUR NETWORK
Networking may not be your strong point, but it’s essential for your career. As a young engineer, you have limited contacts in the industry, but your mentor has plenty of connections. Mentors can introduce you to other professionals and provide recommendations that will accelerate your career.
IMPROVES YOUR SKILLS
Working side-by-side with a mentor helps you observe their thinking process and gives you hands-on experience that improves your skills. A great way to get that kind of experience is working on an EPICS in IEEE project, which pairs professional members with students to resolve community challenges.
For example, students from the Universiti Sains Malaysia worked with members of the IEEE Malaysia Section to develop procedures for residents of coastal areas to safeguard their electrical appliances before evacuating their homes during floods.
CHALLENGES YOU TO BE BETTER
Being challenged by someone isn’t easy to handle, but to improve your skills and grow in your career, you need someone who is willing to be candid with you. Mentors are people who expect the best from you, and when you fall short or cut corners, they let you know.
Tough love isn’t easy to receive. But if you have thick skin and are willing to be challenged, it will help you in the long run.
Those are just some of the benefits of having a mentor. Make sure you connect with an experienced professional to help you reach your goals and grow in the profession.
Looking to learn by working side-by-side with professional engineers to improve communities? EPICS in IEEE provides grants to young engineers for such projects. Find out more here.