Themes from a year of mentorship

Next week is my “graduation” from a work mentorship program, and I thought for this week’s post I’d write about some of the themes from the past (almost) year of mentorship. I had a few thoughts starting the program that have since changed and evolved, and there were a few big topics that stood out when I had my (tear!) last official meeting with my mentor.

Product vs. Development

Given how involved I am in the development community, it may come as a surprise that I’ve considered jumping ship over to the business, whether in product or biz dev, or otherwise. To people who know me well, it may be no surprise. I have a head for numbers and finance and pretty much adore business and finance and lots of the things people find boring about it.

Over the course of the year, I got to shadow my mentor (who’s a Senior Director of Product, so she knows a something something) and talk to her extensively on how product and engineering work together. I also had the opportunity to shadow her, seeing just a facet of what her day-to-day is like.

Perhaps I should go into this at more length another time (please speak up if interested), but I’ve decided to stay in engineering, at least for a while. This realization also led to my application (and soon attendance!) at Hacker School, to focus on learning more, with a particular interest in mathematics and algorithms but also just building shit.

Mobile

One of the very first things my mentor mentioned when we met (a discussion of “I’ve done things, but I’m not sure what to do next,” which was a personal theme of mine for 2014) was “you should really consider doing some native mobile development.”

Me, on doing mobile development for something other than a hobby:

tennis player expresses nope

I was so resistant and now I find it a bit funny in retrospect. I am a VERY strong believer in “be careful what you’re good at,” and I’ve spent lots of time and energy building a reputation in the web world that I have a deep fear that doing mobile development will suddenly open the floodgates of people rushing to say “Fraud! You’re not a web developer! You’re an [iOS or Android] developer!” I’m still afraid of this, but I know it’s probably silly.

TLDR; my mentor was right and due to various events, now (in addition to web dev) I’m doing a bit of iOS development, if you didn’t already know from my rants about Swift and Apple Watch.

Women’s community within the company

It’s not a secret that where I work is not most people’s favorite company. But one of the very interesting and awesome themes of my mentee experience has been involvement with the Women’s Network (follow them on Twitter!) and participating in the Comcast/NBCU TechWomen event, an invite-only summit of 100 women from across the company (which is over 100k people, by the way!).

I’ve gotten to meet a lot of really awesome ladies, and I appreciated being matched to a mentor who also campaigns for women’s issues. On the other side of the table, my mentor noted that she appreciates our feminist conversations and thoughts on gender.

Closing thoughts

Overall I felt that my mentor and I were a fantastic match. I got into the mentorship program when I’d barely been at my position 6 months, and I really appreciate the opportunity I received, not only through the mentoring relationship, but the program as a whole. I had some ideas going into the program that are different now, and feel a much stronger sense of purpose than I did going in, even if that purpose is the possibly vague “build, learn, and make ambitious things.”

I really appreciate the opportunity, and if you work where I work, feel free to ask me more about it, as applications are open for 2015 🙂

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