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Discussion on: 7 Steps to Become an Expert Software Developer Without Endless Online Courses Or Waiting For Years

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skittishsloth profile image
Matthew Cory

Thanks for that link - I know I'd heard both 10 years and 10,000 hours before, just couldn't remember where. Even without that as a basis I'm still surprised when I see job postings for a senior developer, requiring 5 years experience. I know some awesome coders with that much time, and they'd be great mid-level, but I'd be wary of having them as seniors. They may be great at it, but 5 years isn't enough time to get a lot of solid experience under your belt.

And yes - mentors are definitely important. I learned that the hard way. The main advice I got from my first "mentor" was always "I'm busy, here's a book about that." I've tried damned hard to not be that guy. It made me pretty self-sufficient, but I wonder sometimes how things might've been if I'd had someone who was a better guide, for both tech and career.

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memattchung profile image
memattchung

Yea it's definitely difficult to categorize people into mid or senior levels based solely on the number of years of experience. Using my most recent employer (AWS) as an example, I've seen "mid-level" engineers with 15 years of experience and also seen more junior engineers get promoted to "senior-level" within 4 years. Definitely depends on the organization. For me, personally, it'd be difficult to consider someone as senior without 10+ years of experience. The reason being is it takes a significant amount of time to be exposed to different problems. One person can have 10 years of experience but solving the same problem — or different problem with the same solution — over and over and over again.

It made me pretty self-sufficient, but I wonder sometimes how things might've been if I'd had someone who was a better guide, for both tech and career.

Being a great mentor is an art. Although I tend to take a Socratic approach when answering questions, it's not always effective. Sometimes, people just need to be told to "read x ... do y." Context is everything. And answers do depend on the person. In some situation x for some engineer y, I might say "go read z." For that engineer, the lightbulb will go off in their head. But for others, they might require a little more hand holding.

So yes, a balance between wanting someone to be self-sufficient but not wasting too much time unnecessarily spinning their wheels (I'm often guilty of this).

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