Networking - finding a mentor

We’re going to put our networking skills to use to find mentors to help us with our Capstone projects!

Learning Goals

  • Practice your existing networking skills
  • Draft a concise, specific message to reach out to connections


Imagine: a Mod 2 student sends you a message on Slack. You haven’t spoken with them before. They write:

Hi! I have a bug in my project and I heard you did really well on this project! Can you help me???

What does this leave you wondering?

Share in the chat

What other information would you want to know before you give this student an answer?

Maybe you wonder ….

  • What project are you working on?
  • How do you know me????
  • Who told you about me?
  • How long would you need my help for?
  • Do you just want a code review? a video call? to just chat on Slack?
  • What’s your timeline? How soon do you need help?

Networking: a review

What do you already know about networking?

In your notebook

Answer the following questions:

  • What is the purpose of networking?
  • Have you networked?
  • When you ask for help, what information do you include?
  • When someone has asked you for help, how did you feel?
  • What feels scary/weird about networking?

Share out!

Networking is about connecting

Two big worries come up whenever we talk about networking:

  1. I don’t want to bother anyone/waste anyone’s time! What if they hate me?!
  2. It feels mercenary to only connect with people because I want them to give me a job. Isn’t that a gross way to behave?

Let’s think about the first concern.

But I don’t want to bother anyone!

Imagine that a Mod 1 student comes to you and asks for help understanding how to add an element to an array. How do you feel about this? Annoyed? Angry? Outraged? Probably not!

You probably feel happy to be able to help, relieved to be thinking about something you understand rather than the complex problems you’re currently facing in your own projects, and excited to be able to get someone unstuck from their confusion.

Putting yourself into the shoes of someone more knowledgeable/experienced, hopefully you can see how helping someone out can be fun and engaging!

Now imagine that you are that Mod 1 student: you probably feel guilty for asking for help from someone busy working on their capstone project. What can you do to make your ask as convenient as possible?

  • Ask your question clearly, giving as much context as needed.
  • Provide a time frame; how much of their time are you asking for? when is a specific time you’d like to meet?
  • Prepare your workspace; have your screen ready for sharing and all relevant files pulled up.
  • Prepare your questions; even if you are generally confused and don’t know where to start, be ready to share what you’ve tried, what you understand, and where the areas of confusion are.

The worst that can happen is someone will say, “No, sorry, I can’t help you!”

Now let’s address the second concern.

Networking feels so disingenuous - I don’t want a friendship, I want a job! We all know this! Why are we pretending otherwise?! ARGH!

Yep, the whole song-and-dance of getting a job in the twenty-first century is often silly and ineffective. But we’re going to try to excavate the meaningful bits from all the manufactured fluff.

One way to make networking feel more meaningful and less transactional is to cultivate mentor-mentee relationships!

Right now, you’re working on your capstone project and trying to learn an intimidating new technology. Out there, on the job, you’ll be doing similar things! And, much like at Turing, you will do your best learning when you learn collaboratively. But how can you do that without a cohort to learn alongside?

Fun fact: you can reach out and find your own mentors, whenever you want!

A mentor relationship can be as long as the length of your career in tech, to as short as a single fifteen minute meeting, and anything in between!

Building a relationship of learning from and with someone else gives you an automatic Thing To Talk About with each other. And, amazingly, a mentor is also an incredible person to have in your network as you job hunt! They will know you better, making it easier for them to recommend roles and teams that are a better fit for you, and adding one more person to your list of people who can be professional references for you.

Put it into practice

Now, we’re going to get into breakout rooms with your capstone teams. You’ll work together to craft an outline of a message to use when reaching out to your networks.

Each of you will use that outline to develop a unique, personalized message you will use. Remember: you all have different learning styles and modes of communicating, so your messages should be unique to your needs, too.

Crafting your message

Remember to be specific!

  • Who are you? What are you working on? Why do you need help?
  • Why are you asking this particular person for help???
  • How can this person help you?
    • Be specific about your individual learning style!
    • Do you want to meet on a zoom call?
    • Do you want to have them do some code reviews of your work?
    • Do you want them to recommend some resources?
  • Give a specific timeframe!
    • If you want to meet up on a zoom call, offer them a specific date/time so it’s easy for them to say yes!
    • How long do you want them to be available to help?
    • How much work will this be for them?
  • Outline next steps!
    • If they want to help you out, what should they do next?
    • If they don’t, do you want to keep the door open for future networking?

In your capstone slack channel, share your tailored messages. Give feedback to each other - what would make it clearer, easier to say yes? What context should be added, what apologies should be removed and replaced with thanks?

You can even use ChatGPT - don’t use it to WRITE your message, but you can give it the draft of your message and ask what changes you could make to make your message clearer / easier to say yes to / more specific to your particular learning style.

Wrap up and exit ticket

Asking for help is scary. But you’ve had almost a year of practice doing so here at Turing, as well as your whole lifetime of learning and growth, to back you up!

Before the end of the lesson, send your message to at least two people.

You can use:

  • Slack (post in a student circle you’re in, use the directory to search, etc)
  • LinkedIn (write a post generally, or reach out to various connections, or search for people experienced in the tech you’re hoping to learn, etc)
  • Personal networks (maybe your roommate or friends are develoeprs)
  • Social media (maybe you’re active on reddit, or twitch, or other social media)

Share in the combined cohort channel if you get any bites to your requests for help!

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