Mentorship is the influence, guidance, or direction given by a mentor as defined by Webster’s dictionary. I believe it involved a little more than that. It also involves investing time in the mentee and personally being interested in rather they succeed in their aspirations. As a member and participate in the PASS community I have benefited from receiving mentorship for a few people and providing mentorship to many. Members of the PASS community are genuinely open to investing time and happy to see you succeed in your endeavors.
As I sit here at SQLSaturday Richmond I see the PASS Community mentoring people. After one of my sessions, today at lady asked me about speakingmentors.com because she had always been afraid of public speaking but wants to do it. I could relate I used to be afraid too until I became addicted to doing it. During a session, an attendee that was not familiar with database concepts was asking another speaker some basic concept questions. She spent nearly 45 minutes drawing and explaining SQL Server and the concept of T-SQL to him. That is how easy it is to receive mentoring in our community we are lucky to have the many opportunities we get to interact with other DBAs in the community.
I have the great fortune of being mentored by a few people in the community. The first of which was Paul Randal (b | t) who generously offered to mentor a number of people who just had to blog why they wanted to be mentored by him. He provided a long list of things he could mentor you on. At the time I wasn’t involved in the community doing presentations just attending events so I was looking for general career advice and how to get started in speaking. I was speaking at my first SQLSaturday just eight months later.
My next mentor was Mindy Curnutt (b | t) has I got started in speaking I wanted to be more involved in the community and she provided many ways to be involved that I had not thought of including the chance to contributed to a book. I simply asked her to mentor me after seeing a Tweet stating she wanted to mentor the next wave of women in the community. She was more than open to, and it was more than easy to ask her since she attended my session at
my birthday party SQLSaturday Baltimore, which I have to say was intimating since I had planned to ask her to mentor me while I was there. We’ve developed a friendship along the way as well.
Currently, Kellyn Pot’Vin Gorman (b | t) is being a mentor to me. I didn’t even ask her to be, it just naturally happened. She provides me lots of career advice as it’s hard to navigate waters as a woman in IT and as it turns out we have developed a friendship as well. She helped with a number of things as I have changed jobs and helped get me connected a chapter in the Let Them Finish: Stories From the Trenches book, and with writing a whole book now on Query Store.
And there have been others that have influenced my career as I’ve gotten involved in the community but it would be a long list to name them all, I’m sure they know who they are.
I think you too will find it easy to just ask someone to be a mentor or it will naturally happen as you get to know someone. And along the way, they will become friends and in return, I’m sure you will be providing something back to them as well.
Along the way, I have become a mentor to people as well either through speakingmentors.com (more on this later), someone just asking, or just happenchance of the person reaching out to me. Recently I was mentioned on a Tweet that said I was a mentor to someone and I didn’t even know that I was. I was just answering the person’s question when they asked them.
Directly I have given career advice recently to a woman who is just starting out who is getting ready to graduate from college. (I’m still trying to figure out why people reach out to me, but that probably has a lot to do with imposter syndrome.) I sat down and had dinner with her, she had found me through our local user group meetup. I sent her information on resources to get started on SQL Server and look forward to seeing where this goes. I leave my email and Twitter DMs open for any all questions rather it be for something I blogged about or a general question.
speakingmentors.com that was started by Alex Yates (b | t) to help get more speakers into the community. When I saw the tweet I knew I wanted to be involved. I’ve had five people reach out to via the site since it started last year and one person from SQLSaturday Richmond that plans to check it out. One guy in particular that I helped for the site reached out to me while I was at an SQLSaturday in his city so we out to dinner after the event and chatted about the presentation he was trying to give his workplace. I reviewed the slides and he all his content well researched and gave this presentation. I hope branches out into the community to present. Another guy reach out to me he talks on data science, way outside my wheelhouse, but he wanted help on his abstract so I gave him a brief outline of how I write an abstract he came back with it and sounded good to me (again data science in there) the main thing was to restructure the outline. The first time he submitted it to a conference he got selected to speak. He was very happy, went on to record a video of himself privately presenting and was able to see some areas for improvement. From what I’ve seen on Twitter he has gone to present at other conferences as well.
Mentoring isn’t hard as you can see I’ve done some small things and some bigger things. All my mentors have made a huge impact on career and participation in the SQL community. I want to wrap by saying don’t be afraid to approach someone and ask them to be your mentor, if they have the time they will be more than happy to do it, if they don’t they will tell you so and you can approach someone else (more than likely you will not have to approach someone else). Put yourself out there and get a mentor if you need one. And be open to mentor anybody that comes along, who knows you may already be doing it and not even know.