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Mentors, Mentors Everywhere – By Judy Batenburg

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Author: Judy Batenburg – VP of Infrastructure, Starz Entertainment

Get a mentor. As senior IT leaders, we have heard that advice our whole careers, and we have certainly given that advice. Where do all the mystery mentors come from? Where does the next generation of mentors come from, and how do you know when YOU are ready to be a mentor?

Those of us in senior leadership positions know that we should be mentors, and most of us mentor someone – be it a student, a new employee or an upcoming employee.

Rather, this is for those of you who might think you aren’t ready to be a mentor, and/or you don’t have enough experience to be a mentor.

The simple truth is, anyone can be a mentor. My 4th-grade daughter mentors 2 Junior Kindergarten students – at her school, everyone mentors starting in 4th grade. If a 4th grader can take on a mentoring role, so can you!

How do you know you are ready? Here are a few indications you are ready to take on a mentoring role:

  • Are you older than a 4th grader? Hopefully, everyone passes this test. The truth is, there is no minimum or maximum age or experience level required.
  • Do you care about the next generation of leaders? Next generation can be defined by your experience – if you are starting your first job, the next generation is in college, high school or even middle or elementary school. As you move up in experience, next generation expands. Are you a first level manager or a team lead? Others are aspiring to those levels.

That’s about it! It’s quite simple – we all have something we can give back to someone who is not as far along in their journey. Now that we’ve established you are qualified, how do you do it?

Mentoring opportunities are all around if you look for them. There are formal opportunities through Women in Cable & Telecommunications (WICT), SIM Women, Colorado Technology Association and other technical organizations in Denver. Big Brothers/Big Sisters is the original mentoring program, and you can have a huge impact in a young person’s life for just a few hour commitment a week.

More informally, there are mentoring opportunities throughout your company, your professional organizations, your community, and your local schools.

Now that you want to be a mentor, what do you do? Well, running up to someone, shaking them by the shoulders and saying “I will MENTOR you!” is probably a quick ticket to the Police Station. Rather, the best relationships can be those that develop organically. Do you know someone at work who has less experience? How are they doing? Sometimes simply starting a conversation can lead to wonderful relationships. Do you know a student (probably best if they aren’t your kids…) who wants to know more about the industry? How about your local school – are they looking for industry speakers?

Becoming a mentor is sometimes as simple as opening your eyes and your mind to what you have to offer.

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