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Published:May 25, 2021

Every Developer Needs a Mentor

Starting out as a software developer can be tough.

In your first few years on the job, you’re likely to face a steep learning curve as you work on growing your coding skills and just learning your way around work in the tech industry.

One way to help ease some of those challenges is finding a mentor — someone with more experience who can help teach and guide you as you establish yourself as a software developer. In fact, we believe pretty strongly that every developer should have a mentor in the early part of their career. Here’s why.

What Is a Mentor?

A mentor isn’t the same thing as a boss or a more experienced colleague you spend time with.

A mentor is someone who is more experienced in a career field (like software development) who sets out specifically to form a relationship with someone less experienced. A mentor helps them learn important job skills and overcome common challenges in the field, but should also become a trusted advisor who can help set them on a path toward grother in all aspects of their life, both career and personal.

A relationship with a mentor should be long-term. And while the less-experienced developer in the relationship will reap the most benefit, a mentor-mentee relationship should be fulfilling for both parties, helping them both grow in different ways.

5 Reasons Why Developers Need Mentors

There are so many different ways a developer can benefit from having a mentor, we couldn’t possibly list all of them. We’re going to focus on five overarching ways a mentor can help a less experienced developer grow their skills and get started on a path toward professional and personal success.

5 Reasons Why Developers Need Mentors

1. Your Mentor Can Teach You Coding Best Practices

One of the most important things a mentor can do is pass on knowledge and skills. In this case, we’re talking about coding knowledge — even though you already have a foundation of skills (or you wouldn’t have landed a job as a developer), there’s always room to grow.

This can be especially beneficial for developers who find mentors within the organization where they work. Every team has different quirks and preferences, and your mentor can help guide you through learning how to adapt your coding skills to fit what the specific team needs.

2. Your Mentor Can Show You Where You Can Improve

It’s invaluable to have someone on your side who can honestly point out areas where you need work or improvement. When evaluating ourselves, we tend to have blind spots or gloss over areas where we need to improve — not to mention the fact that we just don’t know what we don’t know.

Having a mentor means having a person who can be completely honest with you, but also has the skills and experience necessary to not only know how you need to improve, but also to guide you toward getting better.

3. Your Mentor Can Help You Find the Right Resources to Grow

One of the best things a mentor has to offer is their experience. They’ve been where you are, and have discovered the right pathways toward improvement. That means that when you need to grow in a particular area or learn a specific new skill, your mentor should be able to direct you toward the right resources to help you. In some cases, your mentor might be that resource. But if not, they should know what classes, programs, bootcamps, and other skill-building resources will be right for what you need.

4. Your Mentor Can Offer You New Perspectives

Your mentor may be in the same field as you are, but they took a different path to get there. They have different experiences and different perspectives, and you can learn from the choices and direction they’ve taken.

It’s hard to understate how valuable experience can be, even in an ever-evolving field like software development. Your mentor’s experience navigating the changing landscape of the tech industry throughout his or her career can be applied to your career, to help you navigate the changes that are certain to come while you’re a programmer.

5. Your Mentor Can Help You Grow Personally

Mentors aren’t just for professional growth. Your mentor should also challenge and guide you in your personal growth. They should help shape your goals and help you grow and learn what you need to accomplish them. They should help you learn to build strong relationships with others. They should help you learn teamwork and communication — skills that will benefit you as a software developer, but will also help you become the best person you can be outside of the office.

Your mentor doesn’t have to just be a professional advisor. As your relationship develops, you should think of them as a trusted friend and ally, too.

Where to Find a Mentor

There are many different places software developers can search for potential mentors. Here are some good places to start.

Where to Find a Mentor
  • Your current company. An ideal place to look for a mentor is where you already work, since they’ll already know you, have access to your work, be familiar with your organization, and be easy to access when you need help or guidance. If your current company has more experienced developers who are open to becoming mentors, start there.
  • Meetup communities. The tech industry loves meetup events, especially in tech hubs like San Francisco or New York. You’ll need to find a meetup group that aligns with your experience or goals, join it, and start attending events. From there, build connections with other members, particularly those who are more established and experienced. One of them might make a great mentor.
  • Conferences and coding workshops. Conferences and workshops are a great place to find a potential mentor because everyone in attendance is presumably interested in personal and professional growth already. Focus on building connections with speakers or facilitators, as they are likely experienced and willing to teach others.
  • Alumni groups. If you attended a school or bootcamp that has an alumni network, use it to look for other developers in your field who graduated before you. With their added experience and the personal connection of a shared educational experience, this can be a great place to find a mentor.
  • Contacts of friends. Don’t forget to work your personal network. Your friends may have contacts who are experienced developers who are willing to mentor someone. Ask around and see if anyone you know knows someone who might be willing to meet with you.
  • Online mentorship platforms. There are many online platforms that connect experienced mentors with developers who are just starting out. A few to check out are CodeMentor, Coding Coach, and MentorCruise.

How to Ask Someone to Be Your Mentor

A mentor/mentee relationship is a little bit more formal than a friendship or colleague relationship.

Once you’ve identified someone you’d like to be your mentor, ask them out for coffee or to schedule a call with you. Try to adapt to their schedule so it’s as easy as possible for them to connect with you. When meeting, establish a rapport and look for things you have in common.

After spending some time building a relationship with a potential mentor, you can formally ask them to be your mentor. When asking, tell them why you chose them and what their mentorship would mean to you. Something like this:

I’m new as a developer, and have always appreciated your help, insight, and experience. You’re someone I look up to. I’m hoping to find a mentor who can help me take the next steps toward success in my career and personal life. Can we set up some time to talk about some of my goals and how you can help me reach them?

Having a Mentor As a Developer Is Worth the Time

It takes time and hard work to find a potential mentor, build a relationship with them, and ask them to step into that role for you. But the benefits make it all worth it.

Programmers who want to continuously grow will need help and guidance to do so, and a mentor can provide just that. Good luck searching for your mentor!

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3 comments

Rautie

05-27-2021 09:27

05-27-2021 23:20

AJALA ABDULJELIL

05-30-2021 15:39

GOOD DOCUMENT

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