How to grow your career through mentorship

It’s an all too familiar statistic: Women make up nearly half of the U.S. workforce, yet account for only 27% of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) workers.  With the world’s largest conference for tech women, the Grace Hopper Celebration taking place in September, and National Mentoring Month coming up in January, now is an

It’s an all too familiar statistic: Women make up nearly half of the U.S. workforce, yet account for only 27% of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) workers. 

With the world’s largest conference for tech women, the Grace Hopper Celebration taking place in September, and National Mentoring Month coming up in January, now is an excellent time to focus on growing your career through mentorship.

Earlier this year, four of our women leaders spoke on a panel, sharing details on how they met their mentors and their secrets to building relationships and growing their careers in tech. 

Through their conversations they explored how women in tech can improve on their professional development via mentorship, networking, and other internal training resources

Here are 5 key takeaways for using mentorship to support your career development in tech.

1. Be proactive in reaching out to potential mentors

If you find someone who inspires you or has blazed a career path similar to the one you’d like to pursue, consider asking them to be a mentor. Don’t assume they’re too busy. You’ll never know unless you ask.  

Before asking someone to be your mentor, try to establish a connection. Propose a low-stakes meeting, such as getting coffee in person or over Zoom. Explain what you are looking for and why you are reaching out to them specifically. Above all, don’t be afraid to ask for help. You’re not in this alone. And having the support of others can correlate to career jumps.

Before Nicolette Grannum became a software engineer, she enrolled in Intuit’s Apprenticeship Pathways Program. This program supports people with little to no technical background by offering them a paid, seven-month software development apprenticeship. In addition to technical training, mentorship plays a key role in each participant’s development. 

Nicolette recalls the different dynamics and types of mentors she experienced. “Each person has given me something different and made me more well-rounded, helping me realize that even though I just started in this field, I can be here, I deserve to be here.” From practical advice about writing code, to emotional support on fighting imposter syndrome, each mentor supported her career growth.

2. Build a strong network

A robust network can help you grow your career while providing a strong sense of belonging and empowerment. Many companies offer networking opportunities internally. Intuit offers programs such as Tech Women at Intuit (TWI) and Women in AI. 

For a broader network, plug into external organizations such as Athena (the largest STEM organization for professional women), Women in Technology International,, or Girls Who Code, to name a few. If you find going to networking events intimidating, go with a friend.

It’s important to remember to not overlook the power of personal networks. “Being open and trying to build relationships with people who you know is actually what helps you move forward in your career,” said Bridget Kimball, VP of Engineering and Chief Architect.  “You become more aware of what’s going on around you, and people think of you when there are opportunities, because you’ve already shown that you’re open to doing new things.” 

A friend who works in your desired field could help you get your foot in the door. Consider reaching out to your network and when someone asks you for help, try to give back– it’s a two-way street.

3. Be open to learning new things

Technology moves fast, so staying open to new learning is essential. When Jin Cheng took on the role of senior technical program manager of Artificial Intelligence, she had to overcome self-doubt that stemmed from pivoting away from general software development. “Confidence building comes from learning practices,” said Cheng. As such, she enrolled in online classes to learn more about AI. Building confidence goes beyond knowledge to include how you interact and ask questions. No one has all the answers and you may be surprised to see how many people benefit from the questions you raise. 

You can facilitate your own learning by reading blogs, attending conferences, and listening to podcasts, but it doesn’t stop there. Ongoing learning applies to hard skills—such as technical certifications—and soft skills like emotional intelligence and adaptability. Everyone you meet is an opportunity to learn something to make yourself better. 

4. Eliminate imposter syndrome with allyship

Imposter syndrome generally stems from self-doubt. There can be the belief that you don’t deserve to be where you are, and can therefore stop you from trying to reach farther in your career. Women who are thinking about a career in tech or who are early in their tech careers may need encouragement to stick with it, or reassurance that there is a path to success. 

Do what you can to lift each other up and encourage other women in their tech careers and never underestimate the power of small gestures. If a coworker has an upcoming presentation, offer to give them feedback ahead of time. Or if a woman says something in a meeting, and someone else changes the subject, bring the conversation back. Such actions can help others feel they belong and inspire confidence.

5. Get serious in your job search

If you’re looking for a job, set up your LinkedIn profile to showcase that you’re actively looking for work. You can do this by stating it in your headline and including keywords to make it easy for recruiters to search for you.

Improve your chances by finding someone to refer you. This can be someone you already know like a teacher or former coworker but you can also reach out to people at the company via LinkedIn. In this instance, it’s important to find a genuine connection point. 

When you get in front of a recruiter or interviewer, make it count. Do your research to familiarize yourself with the company, its culture, values, and mission, and read news articles about them. All of this will help you assess whether it’s a good fit.

For virtual interviews, test your mic and camera beforehand, then pay attention and make eye contact during the interview. Don’t forget to ask questions about the interviewer, such as why they joined the company and send a thank-you note afterwards.

Be your own biggest advocate 

Wherever you want to go professionally, there’s a pathway to get there. Women are constantly blazing new trails and bringing more women along with them.  As individuals, we each have something totally unique to bring to an organization. Resist the urge to downplay your strengths in favor of humility and shine bright. 

You’re not in this alone and we’re always stronger together. Other people are here for you—and you can be here for them!

If you are looking for a job in tech, here are the current openings at Intuit


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