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The Voice of the DBA

Steve Jones is the editor of SQLServerCentral.com and visits a wide variety of data related topics in his daily editorial. Steve has spent years working as a DBA and general purpose Windows administrator, primarily working with SQL Server since it was ported from Sybase in 1990. You can follow Steve on Twitter at twitter.com/way0utwest

Do You Need a Mentor?

When I was young, I never thought I did. I was sure that I knew what was best for my career and that I could figure things out by studying more, reading more, and learning more. Probably I had some trusts “issues” somewhere in my past, but I didn’t want to put my career in anyone else’s hands.

Over the years I’ve doled out advice to a number of people when they’ve asked, and they’ve come back to thank me. I even was in conversation with a few groups this year and two separate people (different people/places) spoke out in the group, crediting me as a mentor to them.

That surprised me, but it made me stop and think about what I’d asked them and how it had influenced them, based on what they told me. Apparently I had been a bit of a mentor. When someone recently asked me if I’d be a mentor to them, listening and offering advice, I agreed.

Mentoring

Those of us with kids try to mentor them. By definition, mentoring is a more senior person (in experience) providing advice or counsel to a more junior person. This has nothing to do with age, and a mentor in one area might be a mentoree in another.

Looking back I think my career would have been more successful if I had had someone to help guide me, bounce ideas off, and get advice about the directions to take. I’ve had a good career, but I felt like I’ve stumbled in many ways. Fortunately my wife has helped, and my business partner has taught my a lot in the last 6-8 years.

If you are looking to grow your career, I would look around and think about someone that you trust and have a good relationship with that is a more senior person. It could be your boss, a colleague, or even a neighbor. Ask them if they would help you, and see what they say.

Comments

Posted by Kingston Dhasian on 9 November 2010

Yes. Definitely and for a variety of reasons. A mentor helps you in learning things faster and will also reduce the chances of you making mistakes. Its always good to have somebody to whom you can turn to for advice when you are in trouble.

One more reason is that when you don't have anybody whom you look up to, slowly pride creeps in. When you have somebody whom you consider as your mentor, it helps you in keeping yourself grounded. This is especially true in my case.

Posted by Dukagjin Maloku on 9 November 2010

Well, I'm going to consider this post here as mentor's post! - really good explanation and thanks!

Posted by Robert Pearl on 9 November 2010

Absolutely agreed!  It's the way of the force, a master and an apprentice :-)

Seriously, when you're at a critical juncture in your life and business, it's always a blessing to have an experienced senior to guide and advise you, and hopefully allow you to learn from their mistakes.  Good post, Steve!

Posted by jcrawf02 on 10 November 2010

You don't have to officially declare yourself someone's mentor in order to be a mentor to someone. Steve, your example and assistance (especially over the last few months) allow me to consider you to be one of my mentors, definitely.

Thank you for all you do.

Jon

Posted by Steve Jones on 10 November 2010

Jon,

Thanks and I appreciate the kind words. You definitely don't need to ask explicitly, and I don't think I ever have, but I have a few people as well that inspire or help me check the way I do things.

Posted by Doug Stevens on 15 November 2010

Great post.  

I consider myself in transistion to SQL Server technologies (coming from MS Access and other solutions); therefore a noob.  

Many times, I wish that I could pick the brain of a person more touch with this field.  Not just for technical resources; but also advice on strategy, how to approach a problem/project that's challenging me because of my inexperience.  

Recently, I just discovered a local SQL Server SIG which meets monthly.  I learned more in a few meetings because of people sharing ideas than I would have learned in a year on my own.  I'm open to finding a mentor from that group.  

Doug Stevens

Atlanta, GA

Posted by sql_student27 on 10 March 2013

I echo the same sentiments as Doug here...am on the same boat as you transitioning to SQL Server Technologies

Doug,

Please do let me the SIG you mentioned here...am in Atlanta as well.

Thank in advance

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