Is there such a thing as having too many mentors?

Profile picture
Entry-Level Software Engineer [SDE 1] at Amazon7 months ago

During my first 1 on 1 with a manager, I asked him if he could help me find a mentor and he said he would find one within our overall organization. He also said he could find me a manager within overall Amazon if I want. This would for overall mentorship in Amazon vs being limited to the scope of just my organization.

What are some advantages/disadvantages of having 2+ mentors? Also are there any qualities I should be(or probably more likely asking him to be) on the lookout for those 2 mentors?

1 Like
109 Views
1 Comment
👑

Discussion

(1 comment)
  • Alex Chiou
    Robinhood, Meta, Course Hero, PayPal
    7 months ago

    It is near impossible to have too many mentors.

    Here's why I think it makes sense to more or less get as many mentors as you can:

    • The super cool thing about working at a giant FAANG company like Amazon is that there's so many talented people who are uniquely amazing, and this is especially true among senior+ engineers and engineering managers.
    • My first manager at Instagram once told me that every competent senior+ engineer will have their own "superpower" (or collection of superpowers), and I 100% believe that to be true.
    • The beautiful thing about having multiple mentors, especially if they're more senior, is that you'll get exposed to these different superpowers and have multiple ideas on finding your path to be an incredible software engineer.

    That being said, if you have some crazy amount of mentors, like 5+ on top of your manager, I can see that being a problem:

    • If you're doing weekly 1 on 1s, the meeting load will be non-trivial.
    • The amount of different perspectives could get overwhelming.
    • As a junior engineer, your goal is primarily to build up raw technical proficiency to get to SDE 2 (i.e. write a ton of good code). Having a bunch of meetings will cut into your focus time (though this can be mitigated by putting them all on the same day).

    However, it will be near impossible to have this many people agree to mentor you, so I don't consider it a real problem.

    What are some advantages/disadvantages of having 2+ mentors?

    • Advantages: Diversity of perspective and resiliency (e.g. if 1 mentor leaves the company, you don't get stranded in a growth desert)
    • Disadvantages: Increased meeting load and potentially being overwhelmed with ideas (but I really don't believe either of this are problems at a reasonable scale)

    Also are there any qualities I should be(or probably more likely asking him to be) on the lookout for those 2 mentors?

    • The mentor is technical - This is so important since so much of your life is coding as mentioned before. An SDM will generally have some troubles playing this role for you as they're more people-focused. So if there's an engineer on your team who is good at outputting clean code and a lot of it, that's a good mentorship candidate. And of course, make sure they're on your tech stack!
    • Find an SDE 2 mentor - Your immediate goal is to grow from SDE 1 to SDE 2, so this just makes sense. 1 level above means that they will have a large amount of empathy for your situation as they were there recently while being senior enough to mentor you.

    Lastly, I recommend this discussion around how to find a proper mentor for you within your company, which has some other generally good attributes to have with a mentor (like locality to you in the org chart).

    1 Like