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Why Mentorship is the Right Move for your CS Career

Mentorship opportunities available in the Coaching Corner!
Patrick Icasas
January 13, 2022

Do you have a mentor? Have you ever thought about finding one?

Even if you haven’t, you may know a few people who’ve done it. Speaking to a mentor is becoming an increasingly common practice. 

So what’s stopping you?

“That’s for other people,” you say. “My career is fine. I don’t have any use for a mentor.”

That’s where you’re wrong.

Mentorship isn’t just for people with career issues. Mentorship is for anyone who wants to do their job better. It’s for those who want to grow their career faster. It’s for any person who has ever wondered whether or not they’re approaching things the right way. 

Just ask the people who’ve gone through Catalyst’s Coaching Corner program. In it, Customer Success professionals from different industries, backgrounds, and levels of seniority get introduced and build strong mentor-mentee relationships. 

I love my coaches. The opportunity to participate in mentorship was invaluable for me as I transitioned industries into customer success, and continues to be a great resource as I move into a leadership role in the industry.

- Corrine Goldberg

This program has had a positive impact on hundreds of CS folks, and has resulted in better performance, faster promotions, and new jobs. 

The coaching corner has been immensely beneficial for me and my career. Through meeting with my 3 coaches so far, they have really helped me take charge of my own career which has led me to be promoted twice and taking on more of a leadership role at my company. The value of this program for me can not be understated and every call I have is always incredibly resourceful!

- John Papale

The Coaching Corner is currently accepting applications for both coaches and players. Deadline to apply is February 11, 2022. 

Still not convinced? Let’s go over some of the benefits mentorship can bring:

1. Learn from those who have “been there, done that”

It can be very enlightening to speak to other Customer Success professionals and hear about what they’ve gone through - especially if they’re further along in their career and they’re on a career track that is similar to what you want to achieve. 

Listening to your mentor’s career story - and their commentary about their lives - can help you put your own experiences into perspective and help you adjust your goals. 

When you do listen to your mentor’s story, don’t be afraid to ask follow-up questions. Ask for more details about the parts that interest you the most, and ask what kind of lessons they learned from those incidents. 

2. Validate your opinions and ideas

They say that leadership is a lonely position, and that’s true in many ways. For instance, it can be difficult to get an honest second opinion on any ideas you may have. Your team may feel obligated to agree with you just because you’re their manager, other managers at your company may be too close to the problem to judge your idea’s merits from an unbiased perspective, and internal politics can often make it difficult to voice your thoughts, depending on your company culture. 

Your mentor can be an unbiased sounding board for you. They’ll have enough experience to be able to validate your idea, while being far enough removed from your internal company politics to be able to give you their honest impressions. 

[It’s] helpful to have folks to talk to about strategic questions, to discuss best practices, how you make it work when the best practices are not an option, get specific suggestions for specific problems, and especially to get a broader perspective outside my own company. I really appreciate being able to speak on a strategic level, and to also be able to get into the weeds of specific solutions- especially as they're suggestions from someone who's been there.

- Lani Mohan

3. Action through accountability

Self-motivation is great, but some people need a little extra push to get things done.

Mentors are great at this. They can give you action items to work on and hold you accountable for them. They’ll then follow up with you the next time you meet, which gives you an extra incentive to get the tasks done, so that you don’t end up disappointing your mentor. 

I got real actionable items from my mentor that I need to work on until our next sync. This will help me transition into the position I'm aiming for.

- Veronica Iermieri

4. Discover useful resources 

Need additional reading or listening material? Google is great, but it’s not a mind-reader. It doesn’t know your situation at work, and it doesn’t know your career goals. When you search for “QBR”, Google doesn’t know that you actually want to find out why the customer is dodging your invites.

Your mentor, on the other hand, does know. Because you shared so much information with them, and because they have been in your shoes before, they can share the resources that they’ve used themselves. Resources that are proven to be effective, because they worked for your mentor, too. 

[My mentor] shared a variety of wonderful resources with me that helped me to prepare to have some tough conversations at work. (They all went well!)

Kelly McGillis

5. Take charge of your own career

The fact that you’re looking for a mentor is already an incredibly positive step. It gets better (much better) once you begin your relationship with your mentor and start working through your goals. 

Dramatic results are never guaranteed, of course, but most mentor relationships do result in a net positive. It’s a series of changes, lessons, and realizations that add up to improvements in your career. 

In general with mentorship, the rule is “the more you put in, the more you get out.”

Connecting with my mentor has helped me realize all different career options I can pursue: sales, customer success, pre-sales, etc.

- Betsy Soler

6. Safely talk through your challenges

Internalizing your challenges is always a bad idea. Not only do you only have a limited range of experience to draw on (yours), but you’re also tackling it from only one perspective. And this can limit both your view of the problem and your range of options when it comes to solutions. 

Talking it over with your mentor can be enormously beneficial. They may have already encountered those challenges before, or know someone who has. They may have different ideas that you can use and adapt. And, possibly most important, they don’t work at your company. You can safely talk to them about your company issues or your career goals without risk of it leaking to your boss. 

With my mentor, we were able to talk through some of the challenges I am facing at work. One specific challenge was around creating an argument for standardizing processes on the team. In order to achieve this, my mentor advised me to collect data on the performance of the individual team members and then celebrate and share what top performers are doing. This would subsequently allow for us to scale best practices across the team. 

- Ola Ogungbemile

7. Meet fantastic people from across the industry

Having a large professional network can be extremely beneficial for your career. They can help you find and get better jobs, increase your reputation in the industry, and can benefit your employer if you decide to share your network with them. 

This benefits both mentees and mentors. Because you never know when a contact in another company will be useful. Plus, there have been situations where the roles reverse and mentee becomes a mentor in turn.  

There's was no way I could have met such a great coach on my own (especially because she lives in a different city). I feel blessed to have been matched with Jenni and instantly clicked with her. That I was matched with someone so knowledgeable, prepared, and well-connected who immediately knew how to tackle what I wanted to cover.

- Amanda Lewis

In conclusion

Mentorship can be a powerful tool in advancing your career and building your reputation. With the right mentor, a mentee can get career guidance, professional feedback, and rare networking opportunities. 

It’s a win-win situation, and one you should seize the first chance you get. 

Catalyst’s Coaching Corner is now ready for its next cohort! Do you have what it takes to be a mentor? Do you want to boost your confidence and career? 

Apply here to be a mentor/coach.

Apply here to be a mentee/player.

Deadline to apply for this cohort is February 11, 2022.

Better relationships. Less churn.

What’s not to love? Try Catalyst today.
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