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Can I volunteer to be a mentor for junior engineers in my team?

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Senior Software Engineer [63] at Microsofta year ago

At my current level, my skip level manager expects me to help my team members grow. I have couple of SDE 1s and SDE IIs in my team who are doing good. I am not sure if I can schedule one on one with them to understand their career goals and volunteer to be their technical & career mentor?

Will it look bad if I volunteer myself to be their career mentor? Or should I just mentor people who reach out to me?

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    Tech Lead @ Robinhood, Meta, Course Hero
    a year ago

    Will it look bad if I volunteer myself to be their career mentor?

    I'm 100% sure the answer is "No", especially if your skip level is expecting you to grow team members.

    You are a senior engineer. Senior engineers are expected to uplift others to achieve multiplicative impact. This is just how things work, and I'm glad your skip is smart enough to realize that. 😊

    Or should I just mentor people who reach out to me?

    I'm also a strong "No" on this one. A lot of more junior engineers, even if they have great potential, are very shy and too scared to reach out to a senior engineer like yourself. Being a good senior engineer is all about being proactive. If you see strong SDE 1s and 2s on your team who you really get along well with (code review is a great signal to evaluate this), then you can just reach out to see if they're good for a weekly or bi-weekly 1 on 1 so you can better support them. I'm sure they will be ecstatic.

    I talk about this all incredibly in-depth in my case study on mentorship here: Mentoring Junior SWEs [E3] to Senior [E5] In Just 2.5 Years At Meta

    I also recommend these resources on effective mentorship: