My W.TEC Mentorship Experience
On the 12th of June, 2018, I applied for the W.TEC mentorship programme after seeing a broadcast on a WhatsApp group I belong. As at this time, I had been reading and listening to talks that had to with getting a mentor and since I was also very new in getting back to learning tech, I saw this as a very big opportunity for me to get someone to be my mentor along the lines of software development.
W.TEC stands for Women Technology Empowerment Centre. This is the organizer of the mentorship programme and its aim is to support young women studying STEM courses at the tertiary level in Lagos state and provide a platform for the young women to gain first-hand knowledge from experienced women in technology fields, so they start and navigate their careers in a more informed and strategic manner.
The programme was majorly for female undergraduates but at the time, I was a Masters student and I had every reason to say the programme is not meant for me. I didn’t let that deter me. I still went on to apply nevertheless.
I was a little bit surprised to find out that I was selected amongst the sixteen (16) participants for the mentorship programme even though I was not an undergraduate. It motivated me to always try even when the odds were against me. I was very happy to have been selected as this would be the very first time I would be having a mentor.
The mentorship programme was slated to last for six (6) months and by August 30, 2018, we had the kick-off ceremony at W.TEC. This ceremony was where mentees got matched with their respective mentors. Prior to this time, I was expecting to have a mentor who is a software developer. I was amazed and excited to find out that I have been paired with Tope Ogundipe, the Director of Programs at Paradigm Initiative.
My excitement actually stemmed from the fact that I had heard so much about Paradigm Initiative from friends but I had never visited or had anything to do with the organization. My mentor is the Director of Programs there and I also happen to do something similar to what she does for Mushin Code using my experience as an educationist. This just sounds like a perfect meeting.
As John C. Crosby said, “Mentoring is a brain to pick, an ear to listen and a push in the right direction”. The mentorship programme was going to be nothing short of this even in the next six months and beyond. My first meeting with my mentor entailed getting to know one another and sharing what we do. It was a meeting which ended with my mentor gifting me her two books. I could not have asked for more as I am a big lover of books. We also got down to writing and agreeing on what the goals of the mentorship will be.
As the months roll by, I got to love this woman more and deepen my respect for her. She has got so much experience and the advice she gives comes from her experience and what she has seen happen over the years. When I think about them, I find them to be really true. Our values align and she seems to be someone with my kind of personality traits. The match was just perfect and I am happy to have her as my mentor.
One thing I did during the mentorship program was to listen intently to her whenever I’m with her. I didn’t want to miss anything being said by taking notes at the same time but I made it a point of duty to ruminate on our discussions and write down everything I gained from the meeting. This also makes it easier for me to go over them anytime I want.
Going forward, the six months for the mentorship programme ended and I asked if she would like to continue being my mentor and she agreed to continue with me after the mentorship programme. At the end of the six months, I had this to say:
“My mentor taught me the power of writing down to envision the future I want. It has worked like magic. The mentorship program has been really worth it.”
My biggest thank-you goes to God almighty for giving me the opportunity to participate in the programme and experience what having a mentor really feels like.
I also want to thank W.TEC for coming up with this initiative to help women in STEM gain first-hand insight and knowledge from those that have gone ahead of them. Sincerely, finding a mentor can be a herculean task especially in the area of STEM where most potential mentors are busy people but W.TEC helped simplified the process and they added exciting perks to it like mentees teaching fellow mentees on a WhatsApp group.
I’m always grateful for the opportunity to take one of the WhatsApp training which focuses on gaining visibility in the tech space (putting yourself out there). You can take a look at the full training here. The nuggets shared are of benefits to everyone not just for those in the tech space.
I know the mentorship experience has not been any different with my other colleagues who are also participants of this programme. I got the opportunity to interact with some of them and I can tell that they enjoyed every bit of their own mentorship experience too.
In conclusion, I might not have gotten a mentor who is a software developer but I definitely got one who plans programs for future software developers and I’m happy to have met her.