Stop if you haven't read Part I one of Shannon Turner's story go read that first and then come back and check out the rest of her journey!
How has mentorship helped you in your career?
When I was just starting out, there was a woman who pushed me to give talks before I thought I was ready. She told me, “It doesn’t matter if you fail, it matters that you try.” When I did that, when I gave talks over and over, it took away the fear. So I think peer mentorship is very important. A mentor doesn’t have to be way older than you. At Hear Me Code we really stress peer mentorship. Teaching helps you learn, and then women come up together.
What makes a good mentor and a good mentee?
I think a mentor needs to proactively look out for you, seek opportunities for you to grow, and help you get over the imposture syndrome. I think mentees need to know their goals going into a mentor meeting. And they should give feedback and thanks to let the mentor know when they’re being effective.
What can women do to become more fearless in their careers?
To become more fearless, I think we need to look at the word fearless. Is it someone who’s not afraid? I don’t think that’s true. I think fearless is doing what you are afraid to do. Stepping outside that comfort zone. I used to be petrified of public speaking. I would get in front of the room only when I was forced. Do I think that I have conquered that? Yes. In that regard, I have found some fearlessness, but only by being pushed outside my comfort zone.
What advice do you have for women who are mentoring future leaders?
Please don’t perpetuate the same systems, the same traumas that you went through. I think about how racism, sexism, homophobia, are all learned behaviors. We learned from growing up. Each one of us has the stain of racism, sexism on our behaviors, we’ve internalized it. Our life’s work, each and every one of us, is undoing that thread by thread by thread. I think as we mentor future leaders, it’s so important not to teach them those same things that we did, the same mistakes that we made, that were done to us. We’ve got to be better than that.
What can women do to help empower other women?
The most important thing is that we help one another out. That’s one of the things I love about the D.C. tech community. The women in tech groups all came together in 2014 and decided to work together through a supergroup called DC Fem Tech. We all worked together to think, ‘How do we get more women in tech?’ DC Fem Tech is a great example that we are stronger when we work together. We’ve got to work together. We all need to make sure that we are investing in one another’s futures. Wasn’t it Ann Friedman who said, “I don’t shine if you don’t shine.” That quote has always stuck with me, because it’s the idea that your success and my success are bound together. We’ve tried to embody that with hear Me Code, helping women learn and grow together in a supportive environment. Because I really do want to see everyone succeeding.
Is there anything else you want to add?
I’m not special.Anyone who wants to can do this and learn this. There’s a myth to coding that you have to learn it by yourself. No one has to learn it themselves. Find your community. And if your community doesn’t exist, then create it.
This is just the beginning of everything that Shannon has to teach us! Check back next Wednesday for part 2 of her advice!