September 23, 2021
The so-called “mentoring program” of the Hamburg-based start-up moinworld is a support system for undecisive people who want to gain a foothold in the IT industry. It creates inspiring relationships based on mutual understanding, trust and respect between mentor and mentee, from which both parts benefit. This is also how Alline de Lara, currently a software developer, experienced it. The young woman took part at the program not only as a mentor but absolved it also as a mentee and thus knows it from both perspectives.
In the following Interview, she tells us about the process of mentoring, and what she took out of it for her personal future.
Alline, who are you actually?
My name is Alline de Lara, I’m from Brazil, where I also grew up and studied IT. After I finished my Master, I moved to Germany. Here, I work as a mobile developer at a start-up company for three years now.
What projects are you currently working on?
As a mobile developer I design Apps. More precisely: Android applications – but I did not start as Android developer in this company.
When I began to work, I worked with React-native and React/js. We operate in quite a small team of in total twelve persons in the frontend. I was the first girl in this team but now we are already three, finally! We create an identification app that automates ID-confirming processes (e. g. at the insurance companies) thus is a lot faster.
Let’s come back to the mentoring-program of moinworld. You voluntarily took part at the program as a mentor and coached a girl who planned to start a career in the Tech-industry. How did you hear of our organization and the project itself?
My boss suggested me to participate because a former colleague of his was part of moinworld. He was enthusiastic about the organization and considered the mentoring program to be useful for developing soft and hard skills.
He sent me the link, explained to me how it works and convinced me of trying it out. Thus, I started as a mentor.
How did your interaction with your mentee look like?
Usually, that is something very personal and very individual. However, it was quite nice even though we could only meet via video conference, except for our last session, which could take place in a park and talked for the first time in real-life. We met a total of six times, but we defined beforehand what topics needed to be discussed so that we could make the best and most productive use out of our meeting time.
My first task as a mentor was basically, to get to know her better and of course for her to get to know me as well. Thus, I learned a lot about her life, here experiences and especially what she was looking for, what she wanted to achieve with the mentee-mentorship. Then, we tried to figure out, what the next steps will be, planned the topics we still needed to discuss to realize our plans.
Could you describe, how this process is taking place in general?
Through the organization, my mentee and I, we got paired. In our first video conference, we just talked and got to know each other better. It is important to know what she is like and what her individual goals are, so that my coaching can be adjusted perfectly. We define, what subjects we still need to discuss and then try to follow this schedule. The whole program takes six Weeks in general and during this period, we meet up several times. Our last time we finally could meetup in real-life.
How did you organize the sessions?
Well, usually I asked her before what she wanted to talk about. SometimesI proposed her further subjects that I considered as important and prioritized topics. Sometimes we had different opinions of what’s interesting. I proposed subjects that I thought of were useful while she considered them as not as interesting and rather wanted to discuss something different. One time we had a specific topic scheduled, but we only talked about it briefly because my mentee brought something different as well. In the end, the session became more productive because it is important to be flexible and readjust with the needs of the mentee. If you are too strict about the schedule, the lack of flexibility keeps you from optimally tailoring a session to the mentee’s needs. So you also have to be open and let him or her speak. The perfect mix makes all the difference.
Was this your first mentee or did you have experiences?
Yes, it was. I never did something alike. In the beginning, it was terrifying. I thought: How could I be able to help someone? How can I have something that helps someone else? It was very nice to realize that I actually have something to offer, that might help some other girl.
Your mentee: What development did you notice and what did you guys accomplish together?
She actually planned to make a career change. When we met and talked for the first time, she seemed very lost to me. She didn’t know what she was looking for, and neither she knew if it was the right decision. Over time, her resolve strengthened, and I encouraged her, supported her where I could. When she made the final decision, it was as if a stone had fallen from her heart. It made her so happy and, in the end, she was very relieved. For me it was wonderful to witness this development.
How is she doing right now? Is she successful?
She is happy and waiting to start her phd right now.
You as a mentee:How come you then also wanted to participate as a mentee and how did it benefit your career?
While coaching another girl, I thought: Wait?! This can be helpful for me, too. I decided to apply to join as a mentee and now I can proudly call myself moinworld Mentee Alumni. Through my mentor, who tried to figure out what my strengths, goals, and interests were, my plans became more specific and I realized what I actually wanted.
Your own personality development: What was your motivation to do it?
I think my motivation was simply to try something new. My work also requires me to teach others something from time to time. Practical experiences are very valuable. Thanks to the program, I acquired the necessary skills, thus, being a mentor also benefitted my career.
Did you also learn something yourself?
Yes absolutely. Through the program I realized that my experiences can be useful for others as well. Thus, it turned out to not only be helpful for her but also for my own confidence. It was a good way to appropriate new competences and certain skills. An example: Thanks to the program, I optimized my teaching-skills. But also, in the interaction with other people I learned.
What do you take of it for your own future?
Firstly, I think that teaching experiences are very important. In this manner, I appropriated these skills. In the end, it turned out that being a mentor not only benefited my mentee but also helped me personally. It gave me a confidence boost and was a good way to acquire necessary skills. Not only teaching skills, but also in interacting with other people. I think I learned empathy, listening to other people, understanding my mentee and their feelings. This industry is also a lot about emotions. Last but not least, new friendships were formed.
Would you like to do it again?
Yes, I’d love to. And for me it was interesting that I have something to offer. You never really see this side of you because you are so focused on everything else. So I learned something for myself too The fact, that I decided to become a mentee myself shows, that I think of it as a good opportunity to boost your career And I would of course also be a mentor again.
Something in general:You initially come from Brazil, thus saw the Tech-Business in futher countries. Do you think that Germany is behind in regard of percentage of women in tech? Do we still have time to catch up?
Perhaps Germany is a little slower than other countries. But on the whole, I think this is more of a global problem. If there is still time to catch up? Absolutely. Usually, there are a lot of guys, but in my environment, there are more and more women. In my opinion, more diversity is a necessity to keep up with other countries. That is also what I wish for the future of Tech: We need more women. My dream is the 50% men and 50% women. The work market is open for women too. No girl shouldn’t be scared of discrimination.
What do you wish for your personal future?
Maybe, to become like a team leader in the future, that would be really cool. I think, being a mentor, helped me to see that I can do it. I think being a mentor myself helped me realize what I was capable of. My mentor then encouraged me so that I really realized it.
Author: Annabel Runge (you can find her on Linkedin here)
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Do you have any questions? Get in touch with us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We will also have a Meetup celebrating the ending of our first mentors and mentees batch in September. Everybody is welcome to join and listen to some of the success stories. Just follow our events!
Read more about some of our great mentors here.