At the very beginning, Mind the Product was simply a few product managers who wanted to find a community of like-minded people. Now, with meet-ups in 21 cities and an annual conference, it’s easy to find fellow product people who want to discuss all that goes into making a successful product, from finding product-market fit to translating a vision into a roadmap.
But sometimes you need more tailored advice than talks at your local Product Tank can offer. Perhaps you want the opportunity to talk with someone who’s been around the block a few more times than you, and get advice on the particular issues you’re tackling. Or perhaps you’d like to share what you’ve learnt from dealing with some of the trickier problems you’ve encountered in your career.
Mind the Product’s mission has always been to bring together product people and further the craft of product management. Our latest initiative to achieve that is a brand new mentoring scheme. Put simply, we want to help people who need a mentor and people who want to mentor others to find each other.
Why find a mentor?
Mentors can offer practical advice tailored to your particular situation, from the perspective of someone who’s dealt with it before – perhaps many times before. This advice isn’t only focused on the hands-on aspects of product work, but can cover interpersonal challenges and guidance on your career path as well. The encouragement and support your mentor (or mentors) offer is often even more valuable than the specific advice itself in helping you to gain confidence and improve your abilities. They can help you to set goals and chart the best path to achieving them, and can offer a metaphorical shoulder to cry on when you hit setbacks. What’s more, the connections you make with mentors are invaluable when you’re looking for your next role, whether they’re helping you put together a compelling application or letting you know about opportunities they’ve heard about from their network.
Why be a mentor?
The upsides of having a mentor might be more immediately apparent, but being a mentor offers real benefits too. Not only do mentors generally find the opportunity to pass on their knowledge and experience immensely rewarding, but there is a great deal of personal value to be taken from this role. As with all teaching, offering guidance involves reflecting on what you’ve learnt and this can give you a greater understanding of your experience that can help to take your own work to the next level. Mentoring is also an effective way to improve your communication and management capabilities. If you’re looking to take a step up into a leadership role, having mentorship on your CV shows that you’re already cultivating the necessary skills. You’ll even find yourself learning from your mentees, as they introduce you to new ideas and techniques you may not have yet discovered. Product Management is still a relatively young discipline, and it’s often most useful to get the perspective of someone who’s had recent experience.
How to get involved
Like all good product managers, we’re starting by researching our users’ needs. So, if you’re interested in being a mentor or finding a mentor, we’d love to hear from you and find out what you want to get from the mentorship scheme.
Don’t worry if your job title isn’t ‘product manager’, or if you haven’t had decades of experience; the scheme is open to everyone who has worked with products for any number of years.
There’s no commitment at this stage, so do get in touch if you’re curious about whether this is right for you. Register your interest here, by taking a quick 3 minute survey.