Mentoring is becoming more popular, and is frequently used in various training bootcamps around the world. We recently chatted with Anna Chorna, the lead mentor at Careerist, to find out more about the mentoring system here.
Mentoring is a fairly new concept for some, so can you tell us more about it...
Basically, a mentor is someone who guides another individual towards their goal.
It’s a little bit different from a teacher because mentors not only share their knowledge, but they give their mentees examples, guidance and they provide advice when it’s needed, so that mentees can achieve what they want to achieve. Mentors also help graduates strive towards their goals using various tools.
A mentor is not only a tutor, but they’re someone who goes along with a mentee, holding them by the hand, as they continuously move towards where they want to be.
Why did you choose to become a mentor?
Our graduates at Careerist needed some help after they’d completed their course, and we thought that this help could be offered through a mentoring scheme.
I was very keen and very involved in the whole process, and I just wanted to guide the graduates to success. I liked seeing the end result of our mentoring schemes, it’s still very rewarding seeing individuals grow professionally and to be part of their successful journey.
It’s very motivating to see that your feedback and advice helps to change someone's life for the better, and you’ve helped them find a good job too. The emotions are amazing when you realize that you managed to lend a hand to someone.
How long have you been mentoring? And, what has changed since you started mentoring?
I’ve been working as a mentor for one year.
At first, it was just me doing the mentoring. I guess my role at the start was more technical, I was calling and discussing a student’s current job status, giving some tips and solving certain problems for them.
The philosophy of mentoring has changed since I started doing it. Now I realize more than ever, how much my personal attitude impacts outcomes and people too.
Can you distinguish between a determined graduate and one that’ll give up halfway through the job searching process?
There’s no handbook to the job searching process. You have to invest time and effort in looking for a job to get one.
I guess, it’s hard to give a yes or no answer to the question. Some graduates unexpectedly manage to find a job in a few weeks and others struggle.
As a rule, pro-active students go on to achieve a lot within a short period of time. Passive people spend more time on the same things.
What I can tell is how cooperative people are going to be. After just one phone call with some students I can determine their motivation level and whether our collaboration will be productive or not.
I do sometimes find that the level of spoken English a graduate has can also hold them back. But, if a person lacks confidence in this area, this is where we start.
Can you tell us about your job as a head mentor at Careerist?
When I first started in this role there were only two of us. A few months later, another girl joined our team, and the number of students we were mentoring kept growing.
We had around 150 graduates per one mentor at one point. But nowadays it’s a completely different system, as well as different working conditions.
Today, each mentor only supervises a maximum of 80 people. This is the perfect number for successful collaboration.
Now we have a team of 17 mentors, and this includes both men and women. Each mentor has their own unique qualities, some are strict and others are pushy, and some are very good listeners. But the most important trait is the willingness to help.
After an initial phone call with each student, we do our best to pair the student with the right type of mentor. The perfect match often leads to incredible results.
Our daily tasks involve calling our students up to discuss their progress, their interviews, we look at ways of improving their interview techniques, and we work on their motivation. Other tasks include, running mock interviews (we like to check how mentees answer interview questions), at times people need to be spurred on in their job searching process, we double-check resumes and LinkedIn profiles to make sure they are ready for interviews, and then some students we take care of just want to hear about other students’ success stories.
We have varied days and tasks!
We constantly keep in touch via emails and LinkedIn with our students.
Our team also has weekly meetings and this is where we discuss extra tasks, arrangements and many more things. Each month we also hire two or three new mentors because more students are joining our courses.
Each mentor grows with every new mentee they look after. Max Glubochansky also plays an active role in our mentoring scheme.
Is the Careerist mentorship system a brand new approach?
I suppose it’s a unique idea as we’ve created and monitored it ourselves. We’ve gone through several trials and errors to find the perfect solution that works. But, basically our system is the result of an experiment. We move on and keep changing the structure of our mentoring system to suit our audience.
Is mentoring very common?
Mentoring is a work in progress. I think many boot camps would agree on that point.
I guess you’ve got to accept that if you teach someone something, it doesn’t mean that they’ll go off and find work in this field straight away. You’ve got to guide this person to the end, and this means being there for them when their motivation is at an all time low. Mentoring is a great way of helping students.
Nowadays it’s a normal practice for bootcamps to have a mentoring scheme.
Have you got any graduates that you remember well?
There was one graduate I worked with for six months. At first, this graduate studied manual testing, then they started looking for a job, but decided to start an automation course. They did this despite our advice. Having a big personality and being very self-confident, this individual took a very long time to find a job. They also had a limited timeframe to find a job, because they were facing bankruptcy.
It was a big relief the moment this student found a job and received an offer.
I remember that every phone call we had was full of discussions about interviews and motivation. But we worked very well together. This student is an example to all the other students – you should trust your mentor and follow their instructions step by step.
At the moment I’m working with one woman who is so happy that we keep supporting her. I enjoy our talks very much and I am eager to help her the moment she starts to feel down, or when her self-doubt sets in. My task with this lady is to motivate her, and to make sure she doesn’t give up, but more than anything, I’ll be there to support her with whatever happens.
It’s always a pleasure to hear every success story, because often people lose motivation after hearing several negative responses after going to interviews. I’m confident that we will have loads of success stories soon.
How much time does it take to find a job in QA?
On average it takes up to three months. Yes, there can be exceptions, sometimes someone finds a job in a week. This happened recently, one of our graduates got a message on LinkedIn and accepted the offer. This graduate didn’t even have a resume ready.
We do have tools in place to help students find a job, and ideally the whole process shouldn’t take more than six months.
What’s your advice to those who feel like giving up?
Many people are afraid of being rejected and give up on finding a job because of that. We tell all our students at the very beginning, that there will be many ‘no’ and only a few ‘yes’ responses after interviews. But we strongly recommend that students don’t actually read, or even open, rejection emails.
As a student you shouldn’t expect too much from interviews. You should be neutral about them. If you don’t expect too much, you won’t feel so down about them when it doesn't work out. The point is to keep going and one day life will give you a chance.
We don’t want students to give up, we want them to keep going.