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Mentorship as the Most Powerful Tool for Growth

Having a good mentor is like having an older sibling in the software industry who can show you the ropes and guide you while you become a top-notch software developer. So, what makes a good mentor?
Daniel Zacharias

Beatriz Figueiredo

January 31, 2023

Mentorship has existed since the dawn of time. From Alexander the Great to Neo from Matrix, many prominent figures had mentors to share knowledge with and guide them on their path. The only thing that changed in this dynamic is the technology and the circumstances.

Now, we no longer go to war to conquer lands but rather lines of code and software solutions. And in such quests, we need different kinds of mentors.

So what makes mentorship such a powerful tool for growth in software development?

Mentorship as a highway to growth — what does it look like?

Imagine this: You’re a new software developer, fresh out of college. You’re excited to start your career, but you quickly realize that you have no idea what you’re doing. You’re constantly making mistakes, end in blind corners of the industry, and feel stuck.

That’s where mentorship comes in. It’s like having an older sibling in the software industry who can show you the ropes and guide you while you become a top-notch software developer.

Mentorship is all about knowledge and experience to support others as they learn and develop their skills. A mentor is a valuable compass as a developer navigates their career and tackles new challenges. It’s like having your personal Dumbledore in a Harry Potter story.

Mentors create one thing all developers want

Besides providing knowledge, experience, a sense of purpose, and direction, mentorship also provides one thing all devs want — a sense of community and belonging within a team or organization.

Without mentors, writing code alone and struggling to find your path is dim and uninspiring. Building a mentoring community helps developers feel more confident and capable in their roles. As a result, it leads to increased job satisfaction and engagement.

It’s the kind of striving company culture every organization wants, right?

Mentorship isn’t only great for helping young developers, mind you, but it also represents a powerful tool for senior devs to excel in their current skills and achieve new heights.

A mentor provides insights into new technologies and approaches, helping senior developers stay up-to-date and relevant. They also show how to effectively lead and teach others within your organization, which is valuable for those looking to advance their careers and take on leadership roles.

After all, the well-known adage isn’t true: you can teach an old dog new tricks!

How do you find mentorship in the software industry?

So, how do you find your Yoda, your Dumbledore, or your Morpheus? What approaches do you use, and how to attract the mentorship you desire? Do you perhaps lure mentors with magic code or apply for mentorship within an organization?

I know that seeking a quality mentorship that’ll put you on the right path can be overwhelming. So, to help you out, these are the steps to finding great mentorships:

  1. Look for a fish that’s been swimming in the pond for a while. The pond could be networking or a MeetUp event or a panel of speakers at a software development conference. They should have plenty of experience and knowledge to share with you. Otherwise, the fish is useless.
  2. Make sure it’s a friendly fish! You don’t want a toxic mentorship or a grumpy mentor who constantly complains about how hard it is to swim upstream all the time. Nobody wants to be mentored by complainers. Period!
  3. Observe their behavior in the pond. Do they seem to know what they’re doing, or are they just aimlessly flapping around? A good mentor should have a clear sense of direction and purpose. Otherwise, they’re just another “guru” in the field.
  4. Ask other fish if they know of any good mentors. Word of mouth is often the best way to find a reliable and trustworthy fish. Your colleagues or devs from a community might have heard of a great industry leader you don’t know yet.
  5. If all else fails, you can always try casting a wide net to see what you catch. Just make sure to release any fish that aren’t interested in mentoring you, back into the pond.

A quote from Freecodecamp best sums up the last step: “One person can’t give you all the mentorship that you need in your life. So, trying to find that one perfect person is an impossible task. Because it seems like an impossible task, most people give up in their search for a good mentor.

The moral of the story is — finding a mentorship is all about patience and persistence. Don’t be afraid to ask around and try different approaches until you find a goldfish to guide you on your journey.

Where do mentors hide?

Most software developers struggle with the first step — where do you find a mentor? Under which rock are they hiding?

Before you start your quest, consider these things:

  • Identify your goals — What do you want to learn or achieve in your career? Setting clear goals will help you find a mentorship that’ll skyrocket your growth.
  • Network — Attend industry events, join online communities and forums, and connect with other professionals in your field. You never know who might be willing to offer guidance and support.
  • Consider a formal mentorship program — Many organizations and professional associations provide traditional mentorship programs that help you connect with experienced professionals in your field.

Mentorship as the GOAT for growth – what have you learned?

It’s a fact: Working in software development can be an isolating experience, especially for those just starting. Mentorship provides a sense of connection and support, helping software devs find meaning in their work. It also gives them a feeling of belonging to a larger community.

But don’t be fooled — mentorship is not a one-way street.

What mentorship doesn’t do for you is hard work. It’s a must to stay proactive as a dev and nurture that meaningful mentoring relationship. Otherwise, the mentor is the only person who does the giving without the receiving part, which isn’t healthy.

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