Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Mentorship!!! Is it a SCAM

   Mentorship is a personal developmental relationship in which a more experienced or more knowledgeable person helps to guide a less experienced or less knowledgeable person. The mentor may be older or younger, but have a certain area of expertise. It is a learning and development partnership between someone with vast experience and someone who wants to learn.

During the early days of my career, I was fortunate enough to work under some awesome people who mentored me. Naturally I believe mentoring adds a lot of value at work place, schools or elsewhere. We all need some one we look up to/learn from.

Recently I have come across/been part of some mentoring programs. Mentoring as a word has like 150 synonyms. Naturally it is an ambiguous term!!! I will write about my experience below.

Mentor High school children
I was part of a program that is catered towards helping troubled children(bullied, troubled families etc.) at a high school. I had to undergo professional training to be part of this program. In a nutshell, your role is to show up and listen to the kid, if he or she wants to talk. We all know teen agers do not want to talk to anyone, let alone a stranger. I(and lot of other mentors)felt that, most children that were part of the program, were there for 2 reasons
  • Miss a period.
  • Free morning tea

Since it is so hard to measure the effectiveness of these programs, are we doing it just to satisfy our guilt. Is this like how we donate money to charity and feel good about ourselves??

Mentoring at Technology companies
I heard from John (lets say an acquaintance, obviously I have changed the name) about the shambles of mentoring in their organisation. They bring in university students and mentor them (God save those students). I asked John, what kind of plan/structure do they use. He said, there is no plan. Its impromptu, learn on the go... Students show up, watch YouTube videos, play pool and go home. Organisations selfish motive! marketing. Students pair with mentors who can't code dig or drill (lookup its a programming puzzle) if their life depended on it. Some of the mentors resist learning new things citing, its too hard. I asked John, doesn't he feel ashamed to be part of something like that? Imagine your child being mentored by such people!!! (John does not have children that he knows of or is responsible for hahahahahah). John himself needs mentoring hahahahahah. He was curious to know, how to run these programs. I explained to him how Thoughtworks, with their university program does an awesome job of mentoring University students. He said, that's all too hard and he is too low in the cadre to bring in changes.

What bothers me is the future of the society with such mentors and such attitude. If these mentors have kids, imagine what they will leave behind. If you take the hypothesis of, next generation will be better at things than the previous generation; Well, will leave that for your imagination.

Now read the definition again!!!!

"Honesty is a liability worth keeping"
     ---- Keshav (trade marked)

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