By Hayley Pearce
MBAs, bankers, hipsters, nerds, non-hipsters... who isn't influenced by technology these days? As tech is incorporated into almost all aspects of our lives and workplaces, it's become the field presenting the biggest opportunities for growth and innovation.
The dramatic rise of tech startups and hardware or software companies brings about a wealth of new jobs. But there's one problem: not all of them are being filled.
Despite there being no shortage of ambitious people wanting to learn about Web development, digital marketing and business development, and no lack of open positions, there's a noticeable tech skills gap - because there's a tech education gap.
We need high-quality training methods to get our future tech employees and CEOs up to speed, and the best solution is mentorship. Mentors are experienced and ideally placed to help people learn how to code, market and launch products - exactly the skills needed to make it in the tech scene.
Here's why you should look for a mentor if you're eager to succeed in the tech world:
1. Real people create real results
Learning from websites, blogs and books only goes so far. (Click here to tweet this thought.) What about when you have deeper questions that aren't answered in the content you're reading, you're stuck on a specific problem or you're not sure how to improve? A mentor is invested in your progress and will help and motivate you.
When I moved to Germany, websites, books and apps didn't help me learn German. I learned through real conversations, classes and eventually private lessons with a mentor. I could always contact him via email or phone to answer my niggling questions, whereas no amount of reading could ever cover everything in the necessary depth and give the same result.
Knowing someone was relying on my progress and rooting for me also motivated me to do my homework and prepare for each class.
2. Learn from an expert
An expert never falls from the sky; they become experts by working hard for years, gaining experience and living and breathing their subject. A mentor is well-placed to teach you useful, important skills that otherwise may not have crossed your mind and will help you execute the skills at your best level.
They'll drive you to be better than you ever thought you could be, and they have the foresight to offer both career advice and tips for applying your new skills in real life.
Andrew, who took doBranch's four-week Ruby on Rails course, started building a product during the class that he received an angel investment for:
With an expert on hand, I was able to build a mini product while I took the course and discover what I could do with Rails. Learning by doing is such an efficient way to gain new capabilities.
If Andrew had needed it, his mentor could have easily offered him first-hand career advice, too.
3. Mentorship is personal - and personalized
Mentorship is at an all-time high level of importance; we've got economic instability, an unparalleled choice of professional options and frequent job and career changes to contend with. Getting the personal feedback of a more experienced person is invaluable when trying to make the right decision, learning skills and executing them.
When we sent out doBranch's first newsletter, one of the online marketing-savvy members of our network came back to us with actionable advice. It was tailored precisely to our shortcomings and our business model. We needed stronger calls to action to help people know where to click, and social media buttons had to be more prominent.
As a result of the input from an industry insider, we've become much better at crafting our emails, garnering a bigger and more positive reaction from our readers.
Technology allows us to connect with people in a variety of ways, making phone calls online, creating, uploading, sending and sharing content. It's possible for mentors to create personalized learning experiences for anyone, anywhere in the world.
The ideal environment for learning isn't always a classroom; it can be anywhere, even in your day-to-day life. But the crucial element in learning tech skills efficiently is constant: a mentor to teach, advise, motivate and inspire.
Hayley Pearce is a freelance writer, content marketer and social media consultant. She's a strong proponent of self-improvement and lifelong learning, and is therefore naturally a big supporter of her client Career Foundry's cause to teach tech skills to ambitious people.