CXO

Members agree: IT mentoring helps everyone

A common concern among many IT pros is the number of certified but inexperienced applicants applying for jobs. Fortunately, as this selection of member comments shows, there's a way to fix the problem: Take part in a mentoring program.


Do you want a simple objective that can benefit your organization, the IT industry, and your conscience? Try mentoring an IT neophyte. In his recent article on adopting an IT protégé, Jeff Davis suggested that IT professionals have the ability to foster experience in newbies and groom them for entering the field. According to a recent discussion, many members agree. Here’s what they’re saying about mentoring and its benefits.

Grooming applicants
A common complaint among IT professionals is the number of certified but inexperienced candidates vying for jobs in the industry. According to member Packratt, mentoring is a good way to remedy this problem:

“Instead of complaining about paper certs not having experience and a supposed lack of talent to recruit, we should be doing something about it like volunteering our skills to train others or working to get talented people into the industry.”

The delusion that paper certifications will land great jobs has an impact on newbies’ attitudes towards experience. Member jramsey writes:

“A lot of these new people don't want to take the time to build a base of experience. You have all of these schools that force-feed the answers to the test to these newbies so that they can pass the test. But the schools never teach them what it takes to actually do the job.

“I believe that we need to help the newbies, but we can only help those who actually want it.”

Some IT neophytes understand the need for experience and want the help. Member 3potato, who is switching from a career as a chef to a career in IT, understands the need for experience. As he noted, in the culinary industry, who you work with matters more than where you earned your degree.

“[Working with IT pros] is what recently certified or graduated individuals should do as well. Find a place where you can get your foot in the door as an entry level ‘name your specialty.’ Train under someone who has a fire in them to teach, guide, and lead you in the right direction.”
Is there someone who helped you break into the industry and get where you are today? Are there things that you have done to help a newbie along? Join the discussion and share your thoughts on IT mentoring.
Giving back
For many members, the guidance they received when starting out compels them to offer someone else the same courtesy. When africa_rhino started out in IT:

“I had a mentor, 1,000 km away. We kept in touch through e-mail, and he assisted me a tremendous amount, both technically and emotionally. I owe him my job, and quite honestly, I owe that next paper MCSE the same treatment.”

africa_rhino has taken a step towards giving back by setting up a local IT group.

“About fifteen of us meet once a month for lunch and presentations by different companies. We share experiences and war stories, and it has been a really great collaborative experience.”

When member RDWilson2 was breaking into the field about 30 years ago, the more experienced professionals considered it proper to lead him along.

“Having been mentored, I have always figured that the only way I could pay back those who helped me was to mentor others. After all, how would I ever mentor those who had mentored me?”

Brian Lusk is doing his part to share his experience with an IT newcomer:

“I’ve taken a friend under my wing and am passing on knowledge as the opportunity presents itself. Although I hadn’t thought of it in terms of a protégé or apprentice, the concept is there: sharing knowledge to the betterment of all.”

Lusk’s experience shows that helping out a newbie doesn’t have to be a formal affair. Unfortunately, some seasoned pros don’t see the benefit or satisfaction from helping the young or inexperienced. Maggie9 is trying to break into the field but has found little support from coworkers:

“I cannot get anyone in my IS department to even remotely sponsor me in my interests. I have just about begged to be taken seriously but, alas, I am not.”

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