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Making the most out of mentoring

Max and Josh

Field Engineers

April 28, 2022

Mentoring doesn’t always come easy to people in their careers, but at Virgin Media, we know that mentoring can be a life-changing opportunity. Two people who have benefitted from this are Field Engineer Josh Cook and Apprentice Field Engineer Max Green. If you’ve always wondered why mentoring matters in your career, take a little read below.

What is mentoring and why does it matter?

Josh: Mentoring is helping someone think on their feet and become more independent. I’ve realised that mentoring at Virgin Media leans more towards coaching and that’s what made me want to do it.

I came from the bicycle industry, so the idea of working in Telecoms let alone as a Field Engineer at Virgin Media was completely new to me. Being able to pair up with a mentor during our training made a huge difference. My mentor was called Jack. Jack had been in the role for two years and knew it like the back of his hand, it was amazing! It’s what inspired me to get into mentoring.

Max: Similar to Josh, I didn’t know much about the Telecoms industry. I was really happy to get paired with a mentor and do some training because the closest I’d come to anything technical was connecting my nan’s laptop to the Wi-Fi.

I’d found out about the role through our Refer a Friend scheme. I didn’t get it straight away and was put on the reserved list but it was helpful already knowing someone in the role and hearing their experience. Once I got a call saying they wanted me to join the team, I took the job immediately.

What was an important part of the mentoring process?

Max: Being able to spend time to learn from your mentor. Honestly, about 99% of what I know has come from Josh. Don’t get me wrong, the training was good but from the beginning, I told Josh I learn by doing and that was taken on board. I felt understood. Jack realised we all have different ways of learning and embraced it, giving me the opportunity to grow as a Field Engineer.

Josh: The company’s mentoring means you spend 75% of your time watching your mentor do the work and then for the next three weeks they watch you. It’s a crucial moment where you learn new skills in your own way. Being mentored myself and understanding how it helped shape my career with Virgin Media also taught me how to listen to what Max needed and use it to help develop his own skills.

What makes a good mentor?

Max: Patience. You’re going to get (and should get) lots of questions from the person you’re mentoring and patience goes a long way. I asked loads of questions and Josh never made me feel like one was too silly. I think being passionate about coaching and developing people is also important. The whole time I felt like Josh wanted me to do well and that gave me a lot of confidence.

Josh: I’d agree with patience, too. For both the mentor and those being mentored. One of the best pieces of advice my mentor Jack gave me was “don’t rush and don’t panic”. Knowing you’ve always got someone to help you is gold in this industry and a great way to learn Mentoring is also great for building friendships. I still call Jack (my mentor) and Max still calls me. Those are friendships for life and that’s just one of the things we’re building over here.

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