Mentoring is one of those tasks that’s to be expected of anyone in a senior software development role. This usually involves reviewing other people’s code, helping them with tough technical issues, and even giving career advice.
I’m not sure how good I am when it comes to mentoring other software developers. When I first became technical lead on projects, I got some evaluations from junior developers saying I can be “intimidating”. I think it comes from the fact that I have a natural tendency towards being snarky and being annoyed at bad code. It’s something I’m trying to improve, and while I’ll never be cuddly, I think I’ve made some great strides in being approachable and in advice-giving. I do try to be accommodating and I’m always willing to help anyone who asks for it.
To that end, a while back I tweeted the following (it’s currently my pinned tweet):
(Side note: If you’re working in tech and interested in business stuff, Stephanie Hurlburt is a good follow on Twitter)
It was a bit scary putting myself out there in this way – impostor syndrome kicked in big time. What if people ask me questions I’m not good enough to answer? What if I give terrible advice? Even worse, what if I give *wrong* advice?!? Still, it seemed worth a shot.
I wasn’t actually expecting to get many questions, since I didn’t have too many followers on Twitter. But the above tweet got me put on at least 2 twitter mentor lists (https://ishansharma.github.io/twitter-mentors/ and https://mentorlist.herokuapp.com), so I did end up getting a few. Here are some samples of the discussions I ended up having:
- A C/Java developer with 2 years experience looking for advice on how to write good code. I ended up recommending some books to read
- A student looking for some help with a group assignment involving JSP and Servlets – he wasn’t too well-versed with the technology yet or web programming in general, and I ended up having to explain some of the more basic concepts (apparently their teacher wasn’t doing a very good job)
- A Java developer with 7 years experience looking for advice on how to keep up with advancing technologies and how to interview for senior positions
- A developer asking for feedback on a technical blog post he wrote
- A developer asking for feedback on a small project she had uploaded to Github
All of the responses so far have been from internet strangers – not sure if it’s because most of the devs I know IRL aren’t on Twitter. Well, that and any devs I know IRL who want advice have better channels to contact me by.
It has been an interesting experience. So far everyone seems to have been receptive to my advice and my impostor syndrome concerns haven’t been realised (maybe they’ve just being polite lol). I’m also not sure if I should follow-up with them after some time to see how things worked out or if that’s weird. I’m looking forward to more queries in the future.