Wouldn’t it be nice to play Mr. Miyagi for a day? Someone who guides young minds, coaches them, builds a path for them to land their dream career? Or maybe be someone’s Professor X, who builds a team of powerful yet consistent team who put their best foot forward every single day?
When we think of some of the best movies ever made, there is often a mentor helping the hero to achieve their goals, whether they be winning a match against a Russian boxer or guiding our young friend Harry to find all seven Horcruxes.
The skillsets and experiences required to be a talented employee are varied. From technical to soft skills, the minimum expectations of employers hiring in data-focused roles, especially, is increasing by the day. If you are a part of a university or an organization that has formal mentoring programs, you know the benefits and the sense of fulfillment that comes with it. If not, you might remain unaware of the potential positive impact mentoring can have in your life.
Why mentorship? Why data careers?
One of the many reasons to be a data mentor is the lack of diversity in today’s data talent pool. Data science is among the fastest-growing professions in the US. But the STEM talent funnel loses women at all stages. While women make up 55% of STEM graduates, they only make up about 15% to 22% of the data field. From lack of mentorship to lack of opportunities in the industry, proactive solutions need to be implemented at an organizational level.
In the book “Power Mentoring,” authors Ellen Ensher and Susan Murphy talk about mentoring as a two-way street. They say that in today’s world, mentoring is not purely altruistic. Both mentors and their organizations gain something from this. Mentorship is all about reciprocity.
Reciprocity might be different depending on what kind of relationship you share with your mentee. Some conversations might be validating, some might lead to hiring the exceptionally talented, and others might result in the mentor gaining clarity on their leadership style. Being present with your mentee and helping them get clarity on their goals can improve reciprocity from them. A good mentor does not try to project their learnings on their mentees, they stand on the common ground as their mentee and help them build bridges toward a successful career.
Benefits to mentors
Let’s take a small test and understand the benefits of mentoring. Answer true or false for each of the following two statements:
- People who mentor others get promoted faster than those who don’t.
- People who mentor others find higher fulfillment in their work than those who don’t.
If you answered true to above statements, you understand the true benefit of mentorship. I often get asked if the number of years of experience count toward being a good STEM mentor. The short answer is no. Having a certain number of years under your belt might allow you to be creative, more empathic, and patient with your mentee. However, the number of years is not a deciding factor. Even if you are in the workforce for a year, you have 10 times more experience for someone who is struggling to get a foot in the door. Also, you can bring in fresh and accurate perspective of today’s job market.
A more diverse sector
Finally, for the success of data organizations, inclusive mentoring provides two major outcomes: improved product and services that reduce racial and cultural biases, and an increase in diversity of thought and perspective in the leadership roles. These outcomes will end up becoming a differentiator between a good company and a great company.
With an increase in demand for data jobs and need for diversity in the talent pool, data enthusiasts are looking for their next Professor John Keating this year — and that might just be you.
At Data Mentorship Program, we are trying to fight lack of diversity in data through mentorship. This vision comes true with a strong mentor network and partnerships with data leaders passionate about uplifting minorities in data. Since inception, we have partnered with multiple data leaders from global corporations and continue to look for local data leaders. If you’re interested in participating, apply here to join the May 2022 cohort:
Knowledge is power!
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