Being a Mentor – Derivco Ipswich

Written by Alexander Brook – Senior Product owner within our BI team in Ipswich

Mentoring for me is a big responsibility.  We are operating in an industry that can’t be solely fed by outside talent coming in, and that really requires experience and context.  It has been a great opportunity to be part of the journey for our newest interns.  We have helped them to decide if IT is the right path for them, as well as being able to shape their learning and have an input into their focus.  Mentoring is a massively important task for any business as not only in the Derivco case are we the point of contact between local schools (through our internship programme) and the ‘wider world of work’, but we are also responsible for the perception we create of the industry and our company, as well as the direction we give to these young, impressionable people on their journey.  Being a mentor is much more about guidance, help and structure than anything else.  It is hugely important that we make our industry appealing, as well as our company, to bring the right candidates through our education channels and into work with us.  As a manager, we have skills that empower us to positively affect people’s work lives; we guide, teach, support and progress people as best as we can.  This shouldn’t stop with our employees, rather be expanded to all people that we encounter, especially in our professional capacity.

Being a mentor is hugely rewarding.  Seeing interns arrive on Day 1, some calm and collected, some resembling the cliché ‘Rabbit in the headlights’, and then progressing to a point that they are more confident, contributing to discussions both on a personable level and a technical one, is a sight to see.  Having interns rate themselves on Day 1, go through the realisation process where they appreciate that there is still room to learn, and then the mentors rating them after a few weeks to tailor additional support for them is a really fruitful exercise.  The sense of pride when an intern has an idea that the mentors hadn’t thought of, a solution that is watertight and an attitude of ‘let’s try’ as opposed to ‘how do we do it’ is almost overwhelming.  I would imagine that it resembles a gardener’s pride.  Sowing the seed, nurturing it as it germinates, protecting the shoots from outside influences, allowing the plant to make its own way, then it blossoms into a remarkable flower!

The interns have done themselves proud this year, coming together as a unit and really embracing the years of knowledge and experience offered to them.  Being a mentor is incredibly rewarding and I would urge anyone considering being a mentor to approach the team to discuss the opportunity.  The rewards are both ways!

Our internship opportunities at Derivco Ipswich will be advertised from March 2018 so please keep an eye out on our vacancies to make your application!