Hey Bernard, thanks for doing this interview! When did you start using MentorColor, and why?
I started using MentorColor in October 2021 because I was interested in being more involved in the tech community. I was a student leader of NSBE and Hack4Impact at my school but my reach was only to college students. I wanted to branch out and mentor more people who don’t have the same resources and access that college students have so I reached out to be a part of MentorColor.
What did you expect when you signed up?
I expected that I would be booked for some one-off mentorship, which did occur but I also found a small group of mentees that I meet with consistently. I expected to grow as a communicator and I think that I did. For example, I make sure to not give advice until I have heard my mentee’s entire story. So I would ask a lot of “why” questions to get at the root level and communicate my interpretation to them, and if they agree I would provide more fitting advice.
Can you tell us more about the mentor(s) you’ve worked with?
I have not had a consistent mentor from MentorColor but I did meet with a few (Barbara Olmedo, Senior Engineering Manager; Anil Muppalla, Engineering Manager and Christopher Akande, Product Lead) when I was preparing for my interviews at Spotify! They’ve all been super helpful, and since most have a few years of experience, they were incredibly insightful. I would often leave the meeting feeling like I got 2-3 years worth of advice in 30 minutes!
What were your goals for the mentorship?
My goals when I mentor someone are to: one, expose them to as many opportunities and paths in tech as possible; two, give them the confidence and knowledge they need to overcome their challenges; and three: connect them to the right resources/recruiters/platforms to succeed in their professional pursuits.
What was the outcome of your mentorship? What do you do now?
Currently, I am interning at Spotify and still being a tech lead for Kaleidoscope Village Project (our app should be ready to roll out for Atlanta’s school district in a week). Though those have kept me busy, I am also looking at options to teach those in my NYC/Harlem community how to code. I have outlined an education plan, made some posters with a Google form application, and started looking for in-person spaces for a more connected experience (there is a library about 3 minutes from where I live as a potential spot). If anyone is interested in joining as a volunteer tutor or as a student, my email is NYCodingClass@gmail.com!
Would you recommend MentorColor?
I would absolutely recommend MentorColor. I’ve recommended it to a few dozen friends and peers since I’ve joined and I hear so many positive things about their experiences. For example, one of my friends was preparing for her first UX Design interview and I told her about MentorColor. She was able to find a UX Designer on MentorColor at the company she was interviewing for and was able to get advice from them on how to succeed in the interview!
What advice can you give to people who have similar goals?
My advice for mentees who have the goal of reaching a certain professional position is to find a person in the position and ask them to be your mentor. A great mentor can open doors for you that you didn't even know existed. Take a bet on yourself and continue to soak up information like a sponge!
Any other words? Where can we follow your journey?
My last words of advice is to look at the bright side more often. I often struggled with thinking “what if it doesn’t work out”, but when I started to think “what if it does” I noticed I became more bold and confident. I was worried I would not get a return offer after my first internship but it worked out; I was worried that I would not get a job offer post college but it worked out; I was worried that I won’t be able to make the switch from political science to computer science my senior year but it worked out. It might not be easy but it can work out well if you stick to it and believe in yourself :)
Also, I am trying to build an online CS presence on social media so you can follow my journey there! My insta is @bernard.tech (where I post career updates and showcase some of my team/projects), my Twitter is @makethevotes, and my LinkedIn is /bmulaw. Feel free to reach out anytime!