The Unexpected Key Value Pair in Mentoring

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Finding mentorship when beginning your professional journey can be hard, yet it is so vital to have this support to build confidence, and grow at each stage of the process.  

5+ years ago, Sidney reached out to me on LinkedIn with questions about bootcamps.  I was finishing my first year at Stitch Fix and from that first GoogleMeet call, we have now met nearly every month and followed and supported each other throughout our respective journeys in engineering.  We have never worked together, and we’ve never met!  Join us as we meet for the first time in person and talk about how vital our pairing has been! 

Heather May
Heather May
Sidney Buckner
Sidney Buckner
9 min
15 Nov, 2023

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Video Summary and Transcription

This Talk discusses the unique mentorship journey of the speakers, who found each other through Coding Dojo and LinkedIn. They highlight the power of mentorship, emphasizing the value of having another woman in tech for support and guidance. The impact of mentorship is also emphasized, with the speakers encouraging others to be mentors and share their knowledge. They describe the mentor-mentee relationship as wonderful, inclusive, and supportive.

1. Introduction to Mentorship Journey

Short description:

We're going to be talking about mentorship and how unique our journey has been. We found each other through Coding Dojo and LinkedIn.

Hey, Sydney. Hey, there. How are you Heather? Well, I'm doing good. It's good to see you. Good to see you too. And it is so nice to see everybody at React Summit in New York this year. Hi, hopefully everything is doing well. It's super exciting. We're like really excited to talk to you all.

Sydney what are we going to be talking about? Yes. So we are going to be talking about mentorship and honestly how unique our journey has been so far, especially with the two of us. First off, since you all don't know, we have had this amazing relationship for about five years now. But the catch is that we've never worked together. We have never lived in the same state. And the kicker is that we've actually never met in person before. So how the heck did we find each other? I mean, how did that happen?

Yeah. Well, I remember this clear as day. So 2018, I had just graduated from my bootcamp. I was job searching. I was trying to figure out what exactly I wanted to do next. And I honestly thought that the answer was learning another programming language. And I had gone through boot camp with JavaScript, decided to start thinking about Ruby and things, and had found Coding Dojo. And I was like, let's see. Let's see if we can figure out if this is a good place to start. And so I found you actually in one of the testimonials for Coding Dojo and decided to send you a LinkedIn and here we are today.

Yeah. And I remember that I was just finishing my first year at Stitch Fix. And I had just actually done a talk at Coding Dojo in San Jose for like junior dev stuff and getting your first job. And I saw your message come across LinkedIn. And I was like, Hey, perfect timing.

2. The Power of Mentorship

Short description:

We've been doing this mentorship for the last five years, spending just one hour a month. Having another woman in tech has been so helpful, as I had previously felt isolated. Our conversations have been invaluable to me, providing comfort and guidance. Mentorship is not one-sided; I've gained so much from our relationship. It's been like tech therapy, supporting each other and discussing various topics. My advice for finding mentorship is to ask and be open to unexpected opportunities.

This is cool. And so we like hooked up on zoom and we've been doing this now every month for the last five years. Yes. Isn't that crazy? Like one hour, just one hour of our time a month for five years. Oh my goodness. Like I'm still just very shocked.

I want to hear like your perspective, like how has it been been for you. And then I'll share like how it's been for me. So, first off having to have another woman in tech, like let's just like first off talk about that. All I had were men to talk to and that's not necessarily a bad thing, but like that felt so isolating for me. There were so many opportunities and learning things that I felt like I still had to navigate through and I didn't know who specifically to talk to you about that. And that was very frustrating.

And so like having these conversations with you, being able to get to know you and your journey where you were still like figuring things out compared to where I was, like that really helped me feel more comfortable in my own skin while I was navigating like what else I was trying to figure out in my life. And so like our conversations have always been so appreciated and just respected, and I am absolutely overjoyed whenever we talk.

Me too though. It's not just one way. Like this, I feel like people think mentorship is like top down or unidirectional, but it really isn't. I've gotten so much out of our relationship and like our chats because we, you know, it's not only just my opportunity to like reach out and like help you bring you to the table and give you some advice and stuff from me, you know, a few years ahead, but it's also a chance for us to, we've talked from tech, we've talked about issues, this process scrum dealing with difficult team members or companies, and then just like also our professional journey where we want to be, what are our goals. And over the last five years we've done like it's kind of gone beyond even all of that because of COVID and everything. We kind of went into, started podcasts and we were talking about our podcast journey and all of the things. And it's really been like really helpful for me and on so many levels.

Like I always look forward to chatting with you because I feel like for me it's sort of like tech therapy. Like once a month I know. Shout out to my therapist! Yeah, once a month I know I can chat with you and like, we are each other's supporters like a therapist would be like, we're totally biased in the fact that we want to support each other and like always on our side like we're on each other's team, even though we've never worked together directly. So I think that's really cool. I'm wondering like what if someone's thinking about trying to find mentorship or what's some advice you would give to someone who's watching? The first thing that I'll say is that you just ask, you just try. I know that that's like such a hard thing to do because you never know like who's going to say no. I've talked about this before in some of my content where you know the worst thing that people can do is say no and that's not necessarily bad. A rejection is normally a redirection into something else, something better. Being open to those experiences where you potentially like find a mentor in unexpected ways I think is the best advice that I can give because I was not expecting this to be as glorious and as productive and as amazing as it has been with our relationship.

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***
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