If you keep at this career long enough you’ll eventually meet someone who knows just a little less than you. You may be further along the path or may know a technology they have yet to learn. In any case, you’ll be asked for advice or mentoring at some point in your career.
You may be thinking, I’m just a newbie or junior developer I can’t mentor someone. Well you’ll be surprised by how much you can contribute. Juniors can mentor more senior developers in areas where the senior may not be as familiar. With the landscape changing as rapidly as every few months junior developers are coming in with knowledge that some seniors have yet to have time to gain. That said senior developers have a wealth of knowledge gained from experience to share.
Mentoring can be tricky because you have to balance helping the other person learn with getting the job done and your other responsibilities. You also have to know when a person is really in need of help or when they are just being lazy or don’t think they can do it. There’s a trap to avoid in solving the problem for them all the time so they never learn the resources to do it themselves.
The topic of being a good mentor gets people passionate. When we asked our Slack channel for questions we saw as much discussion on how to be a good mentor as we received questions for this episode. If you aren’t a member go over to slack.completedevelopernetwork.com and sign up. We have a lot of fun and great discussions.
Remember, no matter where you are in your journey you may be asked for advice or help by someone. Just because you are a junior or a newbie doesn’t mean you don’t have something to offer. Also, for experienced developers it can be difficult to remember what it was like to not understand some concepts. Use the information discussed here to help you better yourself and those around you.
Chapter one is titled ‘Making Changes’ and it focuses on how to make healthy changes in your life. It starts with the story of Chad Fowler and how his life improved when he got control of his health and lifestyle habits. Since this book is about refactoring your health Kutner points out that you need to unit test your health to see where you need improvement. Even a somewhat healthy developer has habits, usually around software development, that have a negative impact on their health. He also emphasizes having a system and a schedule that you are able to maintain. Building a maintainable system means taking an iterative approach. This could be as simple as starting a new habit. Kutner goes on to talk about the science behind habit formation and what goes on inside our brains while forming new habits and once they are formed. He references an MIT study that breaks habits down into three components: a cue, a routine, and a reward. He then talks about reprogramming your habits and creating a goal to change one habit by identifying these three components and how you can make a change to them. Each chapter ends with a retrospective and a list of action items for you to do. The last item states to start slowly, this is an important one because so many of us want to jump into a 6 week bootcamp type program of intense exercise but then drop out 1 to 2 weeks into it.
Tricks of the Trade
Look for the question underneath the question. What does the person really want? Sometimes it’s very different than what they ask and you may be able to help them more by solving it, rather than solving the question they asked.