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Has Software Developer Mentoring been forgotten?

Tim Cooke
Bartender

Joined: Mar 28, 2008
Posts: 1173
    
  65

I recently got chatting to an experienced software engineer who works in the same city as I do and we were talking generally about training techniques and how we can encourage our more junior team members to learn and follow good programming practices. A number of times during this conversation he talked about his Mentor that he had when starting out in his career and how he taught him these good practices and generally kept him right. I remember also when chatting with Uncle Bob Martin in the Summer of last year that he also talked about his Mentor with great fondness.

Is it just me? Have I just been particularly unlucky to miss out on ever having a mentor? Or does the software developer community not do mentoring anymore?


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Bear Bibeault
Author and ninkuma
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Joined: Jan 10, 2002
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  67

I never had a mentor.


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Jeanne Boyarsky
author & internet detective
Marshal

Joined: May 26, 2003
Posts: 30938
    
158

I had a designated mentor when I started out of college. (And both summers I interned). And I try to mentor folks although it isn't always called that.


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Michael Gomez
Greenhorn

Joined: Dec 31, 2013
Posts: 27
I had a mentor at my first job but he mostly mentored me on non - technical aspects of my career. At my current job I have another mentor but we rarely meet. Hopefully I can mentor someone at my next job.
Deepak Bala
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Joined: Feb 24, 2006
Posts: 6662
    
    5

I never really had a mentor either, but at certain points in my career there were folks who gave me good non-technical advice. Those are the specs of gold dust that usually matter more to you. You can teach yourself Java / Python / Hadoop but trying to convince team B to use technology Z in favor of X is another matter.

I'm also glad that none of the companies that I've worked for tried to enforce a mentor on me. Not everyone knows what good mentoring is.


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Syed Islam
Ranch Hand

Joined: Oct 03, 2013
Posts: 117
I think I needed a mentor as soon as I finished my studies. Not just a programming mentor but a careers mentor.

I've just been running around like a headless chicken all these years. My action plan for getting a job in IT just sucked. One month I'd be learning C++ and OpenGL, the other I'd be learning about hacking, the other I'd be learning about android programming now I'm on Java development. I think that deep down and I hate to say it but I tend to change topics once it gets too difficult for me. So I end up being a 'Jack of all trades, King of none".
Jeanne Boyarsky
author & internet detective
Marshal

Joined: May 26, 2003
Posts: 30938
    
158

Deepak Bala wrote:I'm also glad that none of the companies that I've worked for tried to enforce a mentor on me. Not everyone knows what good mentoring is.

This is a good point. I think it works better when you and the mentor get to opt in.
Tim Cooke
Bartender

Joined: Mar 28, 2008
Posts: 1173
    
  65

A bit of a mixed bag so far. Some folks had one, some folks didn't. And of the folks who didn't have one the general theme is that they would have liked to have had one. That's pretty much where I sit too, I think a mentor would have been a great asset in my early career.

At the risk of asking folks to expose their age.... I think it would also be interesting to learn when your career started out? Just to get a picture of whether Mentoring was more popular at some times rather than others. I'll start. I began my professional software career around 2005 and I didn't have a Mentor.
Syed Islam
Ranch Hand

Joined: Oct 03, 2013
Posts: 117
I graduated in 2007. After almost a year I couldn't get a job. I needed the money so I went in a completely different career direction.
Jayesh A Lalwani
Bartender

Joined: Jan 17, 2008
Posts: 2434
    
  28

I started working in 1995, and I never had an official mentor. However, I did learn from folks senior to me, and along the way I've tried to teach people as I go along.

Personally, I like to see a software development "shop" modeled after a dojo :- Everyone is equally responsible for keeping things functioning in the school, although what you do depends on what you can do. The higher belts are responsible for teaching lower belts. You don't have a "mentor" besides the fact that the grandmaster/owner of the school is responsible for making sure everyone is progressing. There are no assigned teachers or students. Everyone is a student, and a teacher. You learn from everyone. You get to learn differrent ways of doing the same thing
Tim Cooke
Bartender

Joined: Mar 28, 2008
Posts: 1173
    
  65

Jayesh: I like the "dojo" analogy. It would be a very powerful personal development technique for any company to adopt.
 
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