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How to Mentor Junior Developers

Max Ong Zong Bao
Max is a life enhancer for tech & entrepreneurship. Which seeks to blend both to build innovative products or services for the world that solves hard problems.
・4 min read

The original post was on How to Mentor Junior Developers and cover image by Photo by NeONBRAND on Unsplash

Introduction

Every year tons of junior developers enter the industry. Yet tons of companies have problems in finding developers to build software. They are always hunting for senior developers to fill their team & mentor junior developers.

The talent war is real with companies offering top dollar for the best affordable talent. Sadly we as an industry have a bad habit of not adopting mentoring as part of our support system to groom or cultivate new developers into our industry.

Leaving this effort to schools, coding bootcamps, non-profit organisations and do it your way. I hope this article, sheds light on mentoring junior developers in your workplace or non-profit organisations.

Why There is a Need to Mentor Junior Developers

Mentoring takes time feeling like a fruitless endeavour when the junior developer might leave the industry or the company. With piles of work piling up and requiring your immediate attention. The last thing you would want to do is offering advice as a mentor beyond your job scope.

Hear me out as I believe that learning to mentor junior developers helps build your soft skills to prepare you for the leadership positions. Much like teaching and writing helps you on career growth. You use mentoring to move beyond the operational level into the realms of business or human relationship. To become a leader by getting things done through a team or on an organisation level.

Listening & Asking Question is the Key

As a mentor, I believe the best thing you can do is provide a listening ear and ask questions as a sounding board to your mentee. Despite, your advice might not be taken seriously or acted upon by your mentee.

It serves to help fill the gap in areas they had not looked at before taking action. As a mentor, this process develops empathy that will prove useful for the future in developing products or services.

You will be surprised that the act of just listening & asking questions can help your mentee form a eureka moment that could help solve their difficult challenges for a career or life. I had that moment when my mentor gave me questions to think through my actions or gaps I had missed.

Scheduling Time For a Chat

Scheduling is a pain. Beyond a mentoring programme in JuniorDevSG for the past two years. I don't do this regularly with people I work with beyond just text messages or impromptu coffee sessions.

Recently, I started scheduling regular mentoring session between two of my interns. It is quite challenging to coordinate with another mentor and mentee. When I had multiple projects and my startup to handle. Never the less, I found that blocking out a time slot to mentor for the week, helps alot more than just asking my interns & co-mentor to schedule a time through a Calendly in their free time.

Conclusion

I had covered on the reasons on why you should look at mentoring junior developer. In short, you do this so the junior developer could one day take your current job and frees you up to seek towards a leadership/strategic role in the organisation or company.

I had shared the best thing you can do for your mentee is to be a sounding board by listening and asking questions. Challenging them or look at the gaps they had neglected. Lastly, I talked about blocking out your time consistently for the week to mentor is much easier than just letting your junior developer book your time for the week when you are free.

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Lastly, are you looking to specialise as a developer? If yes, I am giving away my free ebook called "Picking Your Specialisation as a Developer". It is for anyone interested in commanding a higher salary or doing the work they like.

Reference

Discussion (1)

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Pawan Pawar

Good post!

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