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There is an extreme need for more workers in cyber, privacy, risk, and related fields.
You might be aware of this – maybe a position at your organization has gone unfilled for a long time. Did you know you can do something about this (and it doesn’t involve taking on two full-time jobs)?
Become a mentor. With a few hours of time per year, you can help shape, educate, and prepare the next generation of cyber workers. You can help close the gap, and you might even help launch the career of someone who never pictured themselves in this industry.
Here’s what the average mentee will expect of you:
- 1-2 hours of your time per month
- Some communication every so often
- A willing attitude
Not very demanding, is it? We’ll break down some more details of the mentorship and help you get started today. We mean this literally – you can start looking for a mentee right now.
You can empower the next generation
The internet seemingly becomes more entwined in our lives each day, but at the same time we’re all aware that sloppy security and privacy habits abound amongst all age groups. Cybersecurity, privacy, risk, and all connected fields will only become more important as the 21st Century marches forward. You can have a hand in how the industry evolves by taking on mentors.
The industry needs more pathways for welcoming talented folks in – mentorship is a great way to widen the road. We know that these fields are far more than computer science (although we love computer science, too!). The industry needs minds for marketing, communications, and business. It needs designers and writers! By becoming a mentor, you can help people the industry needs find their way in, even if they didn’t go to college or start their career thinking they would end up in cyber.
What makes for a good mentor
While there are no one-size-fits-all guidelines for mentorship, we think there are a few traits that can make the relationship more rewarding for everyone:
1. You have at least 3 years of professional experience in your field
If you have recently started a position in cybersecurity, risk, or related career path, you should wait a few years before taking on mentees. Even if you have a highly decorated educational pedigree, a mentee will expect some hands-on experience that they can learn from. Don’t worry – if you’re reading this, we’re sure you’ll be a great mentor in a few short years. In fact, if you are in the situation where you don’t have enough experience to become a mentor, you might be a good candidate for finding a mentor (more on that down below).
2. You have 1-2 free hours every month for meetings with a mentee, plus a few spare hours to review materials from a mentee
We, and your mentee, understands you work a full-time job and that your time is valuable. If a mentee doesn’t understand this, you might have to explain it. You should plan to do 1-hour meetings with your mentee monthly, either in-person or virtual. You might also need a few spare minutes here and there for related tasks, like reviewing your mentee’s resume. This doesn’t even have to be every month. For example, maybe you only meet during the school year if your mentee is still in college. Some mentorship relationships have a very informal “see you when I see you” style, but you should still try to do check-ins on a regular basis.
3. You have a passion for the industry, and you want to bring more people in
If you hate your job and don’t see your career going anywhere, you might not be a good mentor. For the relationship to be worth both people’s time, you should bring a positive, willing attitude. Some mentor/mentee relationships will follow a hidebound, gruff teacher/apprentice manner, but we think patience and kindness are much better approaches that will make each mentor sessions a joy instead of a chore.
The mentor experience
Every mentee is different, just like every mentor. You can’t predict everything – that’s part of the fun of getting the next generation involved. You might even learn a few things yourself!
Again, you should start the mentorship relationship without many expectations. Your mentor might be 18 and still in college, or they might have worked for years in a different industry. Come at your first session with positivity.
Overall, try to help your mentee to define their own career goals and consider the steps they need to take to reach those goals. Your advice, anecdotes, and experience will help them formulate a plan.
Your mentee should understand that the goal of the relationship is NOT job placement or your contact list. Some eager mentees might need to be reminded. The goal is to help the mentee get started on their own career path. Of course, if you are interested in sending your mentee’s resume to your manager and your mentee is into the idea, that isn’t wrong. But using mentorship as a shortcut to the mentee’s dream job shouldn’t be anybody’s goal.
You could get a mentor!
While we definitely want you to mentor others, you can also be a mentee. Entry level workers, mid-level execs, and CEOs all have mentors. You can even have a mentor and be a mentor for someone else. If you don’t have enough experience to be a mentor, you should consider how a mentor could help your career reach its next level. Even if your career has spanned decades, there’s always someone out there with experience and advice to help you reach the next rung.
Where to find someone to mentor
You can find mentees in all sorts of places – there might be some unread requests in your LinkedIn messages right now. Reach out to your network, let people know that you want to help bring more people into the industry. This goes for both your in-person network (family, friends, colleagues, people you meet at conferences) and social media.
There are also dedicated programs for connected mentors and mentees — like our HBCU mentorship program!
The easiest way to find a mentee, then, is to just ask us!
Get involved right now
You can become part of a mentorship program right now – we have a special platform that connects experienced mentors with mentees that have related career aspirations. We know that each hour is precious for many of you. But think about this – the advice and assistance you give a mentee at the beginning of their career can have impacts that last their entire lifetime.