The Latin root of the English word "patron" is patronus, a term used in ancient Rome not to describe a glowing spirit animal that defends a young wizard, but to label a wealthy benefactor whose sometimes daily largesse was given in exchange for the loyalty and public support of less fortunate individuals. For many in the lower, middle, and even upper classes of Roman society, receiving money and gifts from a patron was a key element of survival, sometimes from one day to the next.
In 2017, there are better ways of getting by in the world than spending the first few hours of the day calling on this or that wealthy patron to receive a handful of coins. (Among the Romans, there was no social stigma that prevented a "client" from cultivating the goodwill of multiple wealthy patrons.) And while in pre-imperial Rome the patron-client relationship was most often relied on by patrons as a means of turning out enthusiastic voters to, um, participate in various elections, it's hard (if not impossible) to imagine such chicanery passing without condemnation today.
There is, however, at least one sense in which an arrangement broadly similar to the old patron-client relationship can still promote the career and interests of those just getting started in the IT realm. After all, there are ins and outs that define any profession, and it can be difficult to grasp them fully without the help of someone already on the inside. Getting a certification ensures that you have adequate technical knowledge to succeed, but doesn't necessarily fully prepare you in other, equally important ways.
That's why it can be greatly to your benefit to seek out the wisdom and experience of a professional mentor. (Note: Not "professional" in the sense of being trained to perform the particular role of assisting and educating, but "professional" in the sense of belonging to the same profession.) Like the old Roman patron, a mentor can look out for your interests and help to ensure that you have a solid footing from which to proceed as you make your way in your chosen IT discipline.
There's an excellent article at CertMag.com (the official Certification Magazine website) that, despite being a couple of years old, gives clear advice about both the benefits of mentoring, as well as various ways of affiliating with a mentor. If you've been feeling a little flummoxed in your pursuit of IT — perhaps there are certain "soft skills" you'd like to master, or maybe you just want to talk to someone about your aspirations and ambitions — then you may want to consider seeking out a mentor. She (or he) probably won't even ask whether you're planning to vote a certain way in the next election.
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