Wouldn’t it be nice to play Miyagi-san for a day? Someone who guides young minds, coaches them, paves the way to their dream career? Or maybe be someone’s Professor X, building a team of strong but enduring teams that do their best every day?
When we think of some of the best movies ever made, there’s often a mentor to help the hero achieve their goals, whether it’s winning a fight against a Russian boxer or mentoring our young friend Harry, all seven Horcruxes to find.
The skills and experience required to be a talented employee are diverse. From technical to soft skills, the minimum expectations of employers, particularly those hiring in data-centric roles, are increasing by the day. If you’re part of a university or an organization with formal mentoring programs, you know the benefits and sense of accomplishment that comes with it. If not, you may not be aware of the positive impact mentoring can have on your life.
Why mentoring? 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 one of those fastest growing professions in the USA. But the STEM talent funnel is losing women at all levels. While women make up 55% of STEM graduates, it’s only about 15% to 22% of the data field. From a lack of mentorship to a lack of industry opportunities, proactive solutions need to be implemented at an organizational level.
In the book “power mentoring“, authors Ellen Enscher and Suzanne Murphy Talk about mentoring as a two-way street. They say that mentoring in today’s world is not purely altruistic. Both mentors and their organizations benefit from this. Mentoring is all about reciprocity.
Reciprocity can vary depending on the type of relationship you share with your mentee. Some conversations might be affirmative, some might lead to hiring of exceptionally talented individuals, and others might lead to the mentor gaining clarity about their leadership style. Being present with your mentee and helping him get clarity about his goals can improve reciprocity from him. A good mentor does not try to project what he has learned onto his mentees, he stands on a common basis as a mentee and helps them to build bridges to a successful career.
Benefits for Mentors
Let’s do a little 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 care for others find more fulfillment in their work than those who don’t.
If you answered true to the above statements, you understand the true benefits of mentoring. I’m often asked if the number of years of experience counts to be a good STEM mentor. The short answer is no. After a certain number of years, you may be able to be more creative, empathetic, and patient with your mentee. However, the number of years is not decisive. Even if you’re a year on the staff, you’ll have 10x more experience for someone struggling to get their foot in the door. Plus, you can bring a fresh and accurate perspective of today’s job market.
A more diverse industry
Finally, inclusive mentoring provides two key outcomes for the success of data organizations: improved products and services that reduce racial and cultural bias, and an increase in diversity of thought and perspective in leadership roles. These results ultimately become what differentiates a good company from a great company.
With the demand for data jobs rising and the need for diversity in the talent pool, this year data enthusiasts are looking for their next professor, John Keating – and it could be you.
at Data Mentoring Program, we try to combat the lack of data diversity through mentoring. This vision comes true with a strong mentor network and partnerships with data leaders who are passionate about empowering minorities in data. Since our inception, we have partnered with multiple data leaders from global companies and continue to seek local data leaders. If you are interested in participating, apply to participate in the May 2022 cohort here: