There’s no substitute for mentoring.
We’ve heard it before, and in various ways, but I think we tend to largely ignore it. Americans, at least, aren’t used to a mentor system, and we’re not in the habit of asking for mentors.
But mentors can be great. You can stop them mid-sentence and say, “wait, I don’t know that term at all”. You can ask them to explain the same concept a different way. They can spot where you’re going off the rails, and correct you. I’m a big fan of video tutorials and written materials, but again: there’s no substitute for mentoring.
So, a few quick notes:
- Having trouble learning a thing? Ask someone in your office, or on Twitter, or at a SQL Saturday, to spend some time explaining it to you. Ask for resources.
- Want to get started with a new subject? Ask your company to pay for a few hours of an industry expert’s time. Start with a Microsoft Certified Master (MCM), or get a recommendation from your local user group.
- You won’t always hear “yes”. Some people don’t have the time, some aren’t comfortable teaching, and so on. It’s okay. Get a few “no” responses, and always remember to ask, “Who might be a good resource, then?”
- A mentor can be long term, sure. But a mentor can just be someone you learn a subject from, for a short time, or even a single setting!
Go and get yourself a mentor!