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Ask HN: Do you do any mentoring outside of work?
113 points by johnpython 6 months ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 133 comments
Do you do any mentoring outside of work? If so, how did you get started?

I wouldn't feel confident to mentor anyone on anything. I'd feel like a total fraud.

This can't be uncommon.

When I was a developer, I either felt like what I was doing could be done by a smart highschooler (probably better than I was doing it) because it was straight forward, or like I was figuring things out as I went along (because it was hard).

Now I do less development and more business analysis / architecture, I feel like I'm talking to a lot of far smarter people, and probably look smarter than I am because I'm echoing better informed peoples opinions back and forth.

All I could advise someone starting out in tech is to remember that no one really knows what they are doing.

The job of a mentor is often simply to listen, and to help the mentee hold themselves accountable.

If you've been successful in your career, in spite of what you perceive as personal limitations, I bet you have the humility to be a good listener and an empathetic motivator.

Honestly, if you look at most professional mentors and coaches, especially in sports, they aren't "the best" in their field. They are people who know enough to understand the problems and life experiences people in that field face and are networked in the field and able to help connect folks with each other.

Take a look at the GROW model for a good approach to working with mentees in fields you don't consider yourself to be an expert in.

Gah: 'Mentee'.

A Mentor doesn't practise the art of 'menting'! The name comes from the character of Mentor in Homer's Odyssey.

A mentor has protégées.

(Yeah, I know Wikipedia mentions 'mentee' - it's still a horrible word in my book.)

/pet peeve!

Are you sure the name ultimately comes from the character? Or was the character named after the idea of advising? The Online Etymology Dictionary suggests it means "advisor" as the agent noun for mentos, meaning "intent, purpose, spirit, passion." It could be related to monitor, and "men-", "to think."

Prescribe how you want, but one could make the case the mentee is the spirit-receiver of the mentor.

Thanks for the etymology. Very interesting!

At the same time, language evolves and changes. Expecting it not to is likely only to lead to frustration. (I'm not immune. "Steep learning curve" to mean something difficult to learn gets me a bit riled.) The change you observe here is back formation[0], I believe.

Now, if you'll please excuse me. I think there are some kids on my lawn.

[0]: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Back-formation

>(I'm not immune. "Steep learning curve" to mean something difficult to learn gets me a bit riled.)

This has exactly the same effect on me. I've always thought about skill acquisition in terms of RC time constant: the time it takes me to reach 63.2% of something is finite and infinitely smaller than the time it takes to reach 100% (which never comes, hence the infinitely smaller), sometimes a sigmoid pops into my head.

So when I heard the expression "steepest learning curve" for the first time, I thought "sweet! tau is really small! Heaviside function like skill acquisition."

My brain melted when the context that followed the expression suggested that the thing was "really hard". "But.. but.. you have a Dirac like rate".

I use it sometimes but I give offerings to the Gods asking for forgiveness.

Interesting! Why do you get riled at "steep learning curve"?

The original formulation is based on a skill acquisition vs experience chart. On such a chart, a steep learning curve is one where skills are acquired quickly, as opposed to skills that are difficult to acquire. The common "steep learning curve" = "difficult" usage is understandable, given that steep hills are more difficult to climb. It's a knee-jerk reaction for me so it's transient: you're not going to see steam coming out of my ears :)


"protégées" is for a female only group. If at least one male is in the group, you drop the "e" and it becomes "protégés".

Thank you. It is a pet peeve of mine also.

of course it isn't uncommon. in fact, it's so common it has a name: imposter syndrome. mentoring is probably a good way to kick that self-doubt, because it will make you realize how much you have to offer.

if you're happy in your new role, good for you! but to any developers experiencing imposter syndrome: there will always be people who seem smarter than you, and there will (hopefully!) always be jobs that are a struggle. it doesn't mean you're a fraud. use them both as resources to become one of those people who seem smarter than you. then find new people who seem smarter than you and repeat.

"All I could advise someone starting out in tech is to remember that no one really knows what they are doing"

That is actually valuable advice. Especially for people who assume everyone else is genius, because they don't know everything yet. It is about figuring stuff out, not about coming in already knowing everything.

> I wouldn't feel confident to mentor anyone on anything. I'd feel like a total fraud

Teaching and helping is an essential part of learning, just as knowing how to follow is essential to becoming a leader. You'll find helping someone else will hone your own skills.

Read this: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dunning%E2%80%93Kruger_effect

As someone else pointed out, this is more commonly referred to as Imposter Syndrome.

> the Dunning–Kruger effect is a cognitive bias wherein persons of low ability suffer from illusory superiority, mistakenly assessing their cognitive ability as greater than it is

Don't think that is the same as Imposter Syndrome: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Impostor_syndrome

The Impostor Syndrome is quite the reverse of the Dunning–Kruger effect.

> All I could advise someone starting out in tech is to remember that no one really knows what they are doing.

That's why we are getting paid. We are all similar brain. Developers simply have familiar pathways that allows them to find solutions faster.

I think "no one really knows what they are doing" is repeated too often and has more or less become meaningless. After are, there are people out there who know what they're doing.

A better way to phrase it is "no one really has all the answers" or "everyone is making their way".

I mentor a developer community which i nurtured from scratch in the conflict ridden valley of Kashmir. My mantra of life is "grow and let others grow with you."

If you want to pitch in , just drop me an email.


You're awesome. Sir.


I did a few sessions of mentoring for (mainly) Syrian refugees in the Netherlands. The group is called http://www.hackyourfuture.net/ and both students and organisers are very nice people. I plan to do it again after the summer and my trips.

To get started I just found the contact details on the website, emailed them and they told me to come.

Just signed up to help out at the Copenhagen "department" of Hack Your Future, glad to hear it's working well!

1. India has 10K AICTE approved engineering colleges. While some of these are IITs and NITs that you might've heard of, beyond the top 50-100 colleges, there is _no support system_ for the students. The curriculum of most state universities still updates in 5 years with little autonomy given to colleges. As a result, most students still see Java, C and dotNet as the universe of CS.

2. India's gender inequality in the workplace picks pace from higher education. In the college we mentor in, there are ~400 boys and ~50 girls. Out of which, 30 boys and 5 girls actively code today. Since there is substantial gender based teasing/harassment, most colleges in India lock women up post 8pm. Collaboration doesn't kick off because of such low density of students. Especially for girls.

3. We run this with 200 students over whatsapp. We have groups for fostering reading, internships & jobs, AMAs, competitive programming and so on. If you would like to help us scale this community, get in touch and we can talk in detail.

You're doing an important thing. Rather than just working with students, also reach out to experienced people in the industry. Even in a city like Bangalore, I feel the industry is too disconnected from the colleges.

We do. Come do an AMA for us next week. Tomorrow's is by a senior from the college who cracked GATE, went to IIT-D and is now working with Visa in Bangalore. EMail me.

Would love to help. How can I get involved ?

Let's connect on mail. Check profile.

I hope this is not frowned upon, but I'll hijack this thread to say:

I'd love to have a mentor.

Same. Maybe we should have a "who's mentoring" thread, haha.

That's a great idea. I just started it.


PM me and let me know how I can help. We can set up an initial set of emails.

1. What you currently do 2. What you would like to be doing/learning 3. Where you want to go From there, we can discuss how we can both work on your development. Thank you,

How does one PM on HN?

HN has no PM feature - some users who wish to be contacted leave some kind of contact point (e-mail, website, etc) in their profile.

I'll add my "ditto" here. =)

After reading very mixed reviews about bootcamps, I've decided to go back to college and get a CS degree. I'm taking one class at a time for now so I can keep my full-time job/pay my mortgage, and boy is that slow-going (especially since my single class right now is circuit design, which is required for the degree but has little to do with software programming).

Anyway, a mentor to help me learn real-world coding skills alongside the degree work would be amazing.

What are you interested in learning?

Being a few years into my programming career, I'd be really grateful for somebody to help/guide at a higher level than, say, learning language X or pattern Y.

It's a bit tough to clearly define, but I think I don't know any developer that is really striving towards mastery on any level, with most colleagues and acquaintances doing the bare minimum to get by.

> with most colleagues and acquaintances doing the bare minimum to get by.

The best way to level your skills up fast as a junior developer is to work somewhere where most of your coworkers are skilled and passionate. It sounds like you're not in one of those places (which is normal -- unfortunately most developers aren't). If changing workplaces isn't an option, then your second-best alternative is to get involved with an active, well-run open source project with high code quality[1]. Generally corporate-sponsored projects work best, because they'll have one or more people explicitly in charge of helping community members learn the ropes and be productive, but other large, cohesive projects could work too.

[1]: One of the best things I've done for my career was to get heavily involved with the React Native community a few years ago. I'm not currently using RN directly, but through contributing to it I learned a great deal about software engineering and project management, and it was a nice resume item that helped me land my next job.

It's maybe a bit early for me (experience < 1y, please pardon what might be a naive wall of text) to tackle these questions, but having a degree from another field, landing a job where people are passionate is going to be hard with my little experience.

Open-source projects seem like a great idea, especially for someone like myself who doesn't have many creative ideas, although I finally found one a few weeks ago (fullfilling my own needs as no website seem to do what I'm thinking of atm).

It's rather niche though, and I could probably do it on my own but I don't know what I could learn that would be useful. I would probably keep using the things I already know if no-one more experienced can suggest appropriate tools (kinda related to the top post about over-engineering).

My CS culture is not that great for the moment (working on it) so what should I learn ? Everything moves so fast. It's also related to your argument : how to find open source projects that might interest me and where I could be useful, as I don't even know them in the first place.

I also slowly discover what I would like to work on (mostly enjoying working with data/databases and also algorithms although I'm probably a bit weak there for the moment, but I really enjoyed doing google's hash code this year). Reading other people's experiences helps of course, but it's still difficult to find the right questions I should ask myself, so the answers are even less precise.

>landing a job where people are passionate is going to be hard with my little experience.

They're out there. You might consider some of the tech companies that are large enough to have intern programs. Even if you don't want to be an intern, it signals a willingness to take on entry-level people.

Also, I say "tech companies" just because when the tech is the product, that tends to produce a more ambitious tech culture than places where it's just a cost of doing business.

Shameless plug: You might consider HomeAway if you're in the right geo area. We take interns, and have hired a few new grads/low-experience devs into my teams recently who are working out swimmingly. But I'm sure there are many other companies that would work.

At your stage, just find anything that motivates you to continue working, and the knowledge will naturally come. A personal project that scratches an itch for you like you mentioned is a great option. Don't worry too much about doing things the "right" way for now. Sometimes doing things the "wrong" way when you're starting out can actually work to your advantage, because when you see a pattern in the future that solves a problem more elegantly you'll have a better understanding of what makes it a good idea!

Do what you love and the right teachers will knock on your door when you need them; you might not recognize them as such but everything you need is already provided, should you choose the narrow road. Outside of following your own passion and intuition, there is no general purpose recipe.

I'm not a junior developer and I recently changed jobs, partly also because I haven't had skilled and passionate coworkers.

I was actually hired to bring more passion and skill - so I didn't expect milk and honey at the new company. I did expect, however, a few like-minded persons, but have yet to discover them.

Also, my current life-situation doesn't allow me to work on open-source projects, although I would very much enjoy doing that.

Well if you need advice on programming or career related topics, feel free to drop me an email. I've benefited from having strong technical leads a few times in my career which was really great, and I'd be happy to try and give back a bit if I can help somehow. davedx@gmail.com

Good luck!

A little late to the party - but same here!

Same here, man. Same here

PM me and let me know how I can help. We can set up an initial set of emails.

1. What you currently do 2. What you would like to be doing/learning 3. Where you want to go From there, we can discuss how we can both work on your development.

Hi, I'd like to talk. Email in profile

I'd encourage you to look for a local chapter of https://girlswhocode.com/, see if there are after school programming clubs in your city (or start one), or sign up with https://hackhands.com/ and get paid to mentor.

I was a volunteer instructor through Girls Who Code through the 2016-2017 school year. It was a hugely rewarding experience.

I had a class of middle school girls who had never seen a line of code before. By the end of the course, they had learned enough of the basics of HTML, CSS, and Python to build a personal homepage and a simple game.

The Canadian equivalent is http://ladieslearningcode.com/. It's a fun time, I try to do it if my free time lines up with a workshop.

I recently started mentoring a small group (3) of homeless people that have demonstrated computer proficiency under the auspices of a local Indianapolis homeless teen charity. We started with 3 and two have largely dropped out. One, however, is still going strong. We are using the Free Code Camp curriculum (goal is a front end engineering job) paired with side lessons from my own experience along with a class project so at the end the students have a public thing on the Internet that they can point to and say "I built that".

The jury is still out if this will succeed or not but I hope that it does and if so it will likely be expanded beyond its pilot stage.

On the encouraging front, I've seen the following progress:

* The student got paying work doing some wordpress stuff on the side so a side gig! * The student got an Ubuntu based development environment up and running all on his own

I mentor a young guy who came to Denmark as a refugee a few years ago, we met through the mentor program at the Danish Refugee Council.

After two years of courses in math, physics, English, biology and Danish he finally got accepted into university and has his first day today studying robotics.

Signed up to help out at http://www.hackyourfuture.net/ as well, seems like an amazing project.

Did you speak English, or Danish?

I signed up to teach some programming to children in England, but then got a job in Copenhagen before starting. It will be years before my Danish is good enough to understand children in a classroom.

Both, I'm Danish. The guy I mentor is 22 years old now, he already spoke English when he arrived and has since learnt Danish.

You can sign up here:


There's also Coding Pirates, which is aimed at teaching kids technology, programming, etc.: https://codingpirates.dk/

And Hack Your Future - http://www.hackyourfuture.net/

Yes, I do. I think sometimes people just want someone to bounce ideas off. For me its primarily helping people to think logically about their problems, but there's also some help given from the years of experience I have. I'm not super-successful, but I've done 'ok' and I'm happy. The feedback from those I've helped has been positive and it feels good to help others. I think best way to get started is to just speak to people and see what problems they have and see if your knowledge can be helpful. Use your own network first - plus there's a fairly big network on here! :)

I mentor my wife who recently started working professionally as an iOS Software Engineer. When I lived in the city, I would attend a peer lab for iOS Developers where you can mentor developers just getting started in the field. This is where I got started and highly recommend that route.

In Nashville (and growing elsewhere) we started a community around self-organizing peer-mentorship. Checkout it out http://pennyuniversity.org

It's very rudimentary and grass roots at this point. (I mean.. we're a Slack Team and a Google Forum.) But the idea is that everyone has things they want to learn and thing that they can share. PennyUniversity serves as the community for people that want to make In-Real-Life connections to learn new things. It's self organized, mostly it's individuals asking to learn something and then setting up a coffee chat or a lunch conversation. Occasionally the conversations grow to larger groups (say 10 people). Often the conversations are one-off, but sometimes they form into longer-term mentorship or topical-groups or reading groups. We encourage face-to-face meetings, but occasionally the meetings are online and recorded - like this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Czy7bgDd7Hc

Check it out. I'd love to hear feedback.

That's really neat! I'm in Nashville and haven't ever heard of this. Have you guys reached out to groups like the NTC[1] to potentially advertise in their newsletter? It seems like a lot of their audience would be interested in just this sort of thing.

[1] https://technologycouncil.com/

I do programming tutoring at LightHouse Holyoke[1], a learning center for homeschooled and unschooled kids here in Western Massachusetts. Legally the students are homeschooled, but the center has a full schedule of classes and also connects the kids with tutoring and other one-on-one activities. Most kids go 3-5 days a week and get most or all of their education through LightHouse.

It's a blast. There are about 15 centers like this across the country that operate under the banner of the Liberated Learners network[2]. It's mostly volunteer but there are some paid opportunities, especially for group classes.

[1] http://lighthouseholyoke.org/

[2] http://liberatedlearners.net/

I've mentored more than 100 students over the past decade. It's something incredibly important to my life and wellbeing.

I suggest going to your alma mater or graduate school and asking them if they have a mentorship program. They almost always do and it's an easy way to get started.

There's a lot of different opportunities for mentorship as you can see from the comments. Find a specific demographic that you're passionate about helping. Maybe it's someone less fortunate, maybe it's a carbon copy of you. After you have that set it will be significantly easier to identify opportunities and organizations through which you can mentor.

Yea, I chat with ex-colleagues about their work and how they're faring since we've worked together.

I'm a director of eng. as well, so there'll be times when I reconnect with former managers and reports and provide/get mentorship that way as well. The key is to actually keep in contact and in touch beyond any singular job; if you were able to mentor them while you shared an office, that relationship is still valuable afterwards. Of course, this means that you have to develop the skill & reputation to be a good mentor to others around your job.

I actively do, at least 1 person (I don't know) each year who's in my career track as well as the people who work for me. The way I get people to mentor is by telling colleagues that if they know anyone who might benefit from talking to me send them over and we'll see if we hit it off. That gets me about 1-2 people a year, some whom still seek me out years later.

I didn't start mentoring anyone until 15 plus years into my career, or so I had thought. After I was first asked to mentor I read up on what it is and realized I'd mentored many people in software since the moment I'd left college. Not all mentoring looks the same but the thing it always has in common is listening, asking questions, listening more then hopefully getting the mentee to listen to themselves. The best book I ever read on mentoring was "Inner Game of Tennis" despite it being intended to teach coaching. I highly recommend it.

I think you can mentor people outside your discipline if you know what questions to ask. It's not always about having a superior technical insight, if it is then it's probably coaching. FWIW I see mentoring as advising someone through personal growth area and coaching as directly training someone on skills improvement or change, the former initiated by the mentee, the later the mentor.

Everyone here is smart and has something to offer. Seek out mentors yourself and in turn mentor others when the chance arises, you'll grow tremendously.

Great question, thanks for asking.

Professionally, I do some mentoring outside of work. But it's mainly informal, and consists of former employees and interns reaching out to me. For these, the mentoring is less advice-giving and more playing devil's advocate to help them think through decisions and be confident that they've explored all the angles.

Personally, I do mentoring for children through programs like Big Brother[1] and Youth Villages[2]. These programs are constantly in need of male mentors/role models. Even more so for ones that work in white collar areas that these kids may not have ever had exposure to otherwise. As a former mentee in one of these when I was little, I can't stress how impactful these types of programs are. I encourage anyone here that can spare a few hours a month to volunteer at least once for one of these.

[1] http://www.mentorakid.org/site/c.flKYIcOSIiJ6H/b.9192427/k.5... [2] http://www.youthvillages.org/what-we-do/mentoring

I've done a lot of speaking at programmer groups in my area, try to be active in answering questions on a Slack group that's also setup for programmers in my area and taught a Rails and Postgres class a little while back. Would love to teach more but it's hard to find the time.

The Slack group is the most efficient way. If people find that they are able to get help by coming there, they tend to keep coming there.

Yes - I have an hour every Saturday I put aside for a weekly mentoring meeting. I have a lot of people reach out to me for advice, but as a founder I don't have time to meet every request. Instead, I have my Saturday afternoon hold each week for a call or coffee with people who reach out for guidance on hiring engineers, fundraising, starting a startup so there is a controlled time slot for mentoring meetings. Being a founder is really hard, we're a startup that is post revenue, post seed venture, post product market fit - but everything just seems more complex as we get bigger and there are more failures all the time with bigger consequences. These mentor meetings with founders just starting out give me a healthy pause to realize how far we've come and I feel better knowing I can help other new founders not feel so alone in the early stage process.

LinkedIn is about to launch Tinder-like mentor matching. There are also two more startups in this field.

Do you want to start something in this space?

Cool idea, though I hope this doesn't turn into a status game - people trying to obtain the "most prestigious" mentors even though they may not actually need the advice or mentorship themselves.

Any links about about the LinkedIn feature or the startups?

Yeah, I'd also like to know more!

Me too.

I'd like to plug an article written about "mentorship" and looking into "friendtorship". https://iheanyi.com/journal/2017/08/18/on-friendtorship/

I used to offer mentoring in a certain programming language via email. It soon became too time-intensive to continue with it, mostly because the people appeared unwilling or unable to do the necessary groundwork and just wanted answers without much effort on their part. They wanted, basically, supervision.

I recall reading a very short book years ago, I think it was "The One-Minute Manager", and the biggest takeaway I got from that is that you have to adopt different styles according to people's motivation and skill (a 2x2 grid similar to [1]).

It appears "mentoring" (coaching) is appropriate for people who have skill but lack motivation or confidence. This definitely correlates with my experiences.

[1]: https://goo.gl/images/EvBi7x

I used to love teaching people things, but as I've gotten older I've gotten more jaded. We all want to work with people in the bottom right square - those with potential and tenacity seeking to accelerate their progress. But the reality is that the vast majority of people (I'm guessing 95%+) are on the left side - they just want to be sold a dream.

At least for me, it's too soul crushing to work with people who completely lack motivation.

Youth Startup Weekend is a nice event to get your feet wet. The kids that show up are fun and pretty darn smart, some great ideas come out of these.


It's a whole weekend of volunteer work, functions just like an adult startup weekend. Kids learn to pitch, come up with ideas, and pivot more times than an adult does (ha!).

I've done a few in different states. Only one wasn't run well (techstars appoints faciliators & organizers, it's up to them on how well the event runs). The others I learned just as much interacting with the kids than they learned from me.

Give it a shot! They don't have many events on that page now, but they have events in quite a few states throughout the year.

Yea, people just email me out of the blue asking for help sometimes.

I used to freelance full-time, and I wrote a number of articles to help market my services. Between that and my open source work, I'm pretty easy to find. I think at one point, my site was ranked 6th on google for "JavaScript Expert".

I lived in SF for a while and then moved back to Ohio and started a local JS meetup. I did a lot of presentations there, although I'm not sure if it would count as mentoring. I had a son about a year after starting it, so I handed off the reigns to a local agency with a bit more free time then what I suddenly had.

I've also helped some of my friends' children get started on Khan Academy (programing and other things), and I'm looking forward to when my son will be ready (he just turned 3 ;)

I do! Not because I feel like I know anything, but because logically I know there's quite some distance between an engineer and someone wanting to be an engineer. I see it every time my team gets a summer intern.

I got started by re-connecting with a group I led at university and being introduced to folks teaching business and practical engineering skills at a local accelerator (which seems to be primarily populated by college students and people without much experience trying to start their own companies). It's been a learning process -- both in terms of learning what people really ought to know before they apply for their first job versus what's normally taught and trying to fill in some of the missing bits, and learning where I myself have skills gaps.

I did some mentoring on Ruby for beginners as one of the mentors at RubyMentors some years ago, when I was working on Ruby (and Rails) projects. Currently not doing any such mentoring as I am busy with many things. Might start it again after some time, likely this time for the following areas:

- software career guidance for beginners;

- Python, SQL and database design, and Linux/Unix user-level and shell scripting (the mentoring can be done for each of those subjects independently);

- maybe C too a bit later.

I have multiple years of real life experience in all of those.

I also do online mentoring as part of my work, at Codementor. Here is my Codementor profile:


I have been mentoring a friend over a 1.5 year span. We were both from the Market Research Data Processing domain. I managed the make the switch to software and helping him get proficient enough in web software development to land a junior position. So far I've just told him what courses to do on Udemy and Code school and helped him if he's got stuck. He's doing this for himself so the motivation is there. I just make a phone-call twice a day asking him his progress. Even if he's not made any it's fine - as he's managing this with his current work. He works from home and has 2 clients who pay him for MR DP work - so he makes time on weekends and early in the morning. This has already yielded him some really great benefits because he can now program web surveys and customise them for client requirements. Over time he's become really good at jQuery and CSS and has now done a RoR course and currently doing a node.js course on Udemy. If he continues to be open to mentoring I plan on putting him on an Erlang or Prolog or Haskell or Elm tutorial next.

I also mentored another relative. He was a fresher and just passed out of college - but with a "wrong" degree. He did commerce (that's what we call it in India, his dad is an accountant) - but wanted to be a programmer. I followed the same pattern with him. He also did a 1 year full time course in Software. He just recently landed a job as a Junior Dev. It's a start because the institute that he did the course with said that because of his background degree, he'll find it difficult to get a break with A-companies and should concentrate on B-class companies. I tried to convince him to now start solving problems on Hacker Rank and Project Euler and take about 3-6 months before applying for a job, but he was too anxious and went for a job that pays - I kid you not - INR 8000/- per month. They have said they will pay INR 16,000/- after 6 months if he does well.

One of the things I've found is it's hard to boost people's self esteem. The first guy i'm mentoring is too afraid to go for an interview because he doesn't want to fail. But anyway it's slow and steady progress up the ladder.

I have, through my local Hackerspace. Mostly basic electronics and a bit of microcontroller programming.

I am also a member of the Institute of Engineering and Technology, a UK professional engineering organisation. I hope to be involved with some mentoring through that.

I kinda do. Not is a professional sense but with teens/preteens mostly. Some years ago I was linled to a chat described as filled with skiddies (I do vuln research and dev). What i found was some lids who had taught themselves Visual Basic in order to male cheats and trainers for flash games.

I stuck around helped them learn more about programming, reverse engineering, and eventually exploit development.

Over the years the group has changed but I established myself as one willing to take questions and help people learn. It took sometime to establish myself especially among that age group but I just stuck it out because I saw people willing and tryimg to learn.

I do some coaching in a local CoderDojo (https://coderdojo.com/) ... Great to see how kids engage and appreciate the help that you can provide. In doing this, I got some valid lifelessons on how to interact with people (regardless of age or skillset). It's really fun to 'teach' logical thinking to kids and - frankly - I sometimes gather a new perspective on things when problemsolving with these kids.

In fact, we're all ready to go for another season of coding and mentoring as of tomorrow. Looking forward to seeing familiar and new faces ...

I'm mentoring a deaf student who wants to learn web development.

It's been challenging and slow but we are progressing. Most videos/tutorials do not work well because deaf people do not have the same reading comprehension non-deaf people have.

I made an account just to reply to this. I think is amazing what you're doing; I learn sign language about two years ago and I've been working with local organizations in order to help/teach deaf people and their families to communicate. Keep it up!

I mentored a guy in Lithuania for a year. It was very rewarding for me to help him out and he's been working for some time now. When we started he was finishing up college and we continued while he was starting to look for jobs.

Hmm, not any mentoring... but someone asked me to give a talk about Golang at a small meetup recently. I felt like a fraud. I'm not qualified to give a talk on Go!

But I went. It went really well, and I got a lot of people interested.

Cool. See impostor syndrome mentioned elsewhere in this thread. No need to feel like a fraud. Even if you know just somewhat more than some others, there can be value in what you can talk about to those others (not everyone) - this applies to any subject. The obvious caveat is that one should try to do a good job of the talk by preparing, trying to make it interesting (some), giving good examples, etc.

Some countries have youth entrepreneurship programmes – in Sweden, at secondary school (15-18), some programmes have a youth entrepreneurship course where students get to run a business over the course of a year. These microcompanies generally have an "advisor", who generally have experience running a company. I have been an advisor for two groups of students over my course of time – and I must say that it has been a learning experience that feels as big for me as it was for them.

Further, one should not underestimate all micro-mentoring that occurs when helping young talents in ones field.

I'm a developer for 10 years and I've started to mentoring by HackHands on Ruby and Ruby on Rails. I realized its so much fun and improves my knowledge.

I believe knowledge should be free and I've done lots of volunteered mentoring like instructing RoR 101 more than 200 hours, created a free online RoR101 course.

I find mentoring, helping and instructing people about something you know is fun and exciting, also it makes you better at it.

I also do mentoring at https://www.codementor.io/beydogan

I recently joined a large tech company, and so most of my mentoring has been within the company (including other departments though). One thing that I did more of previously was sign up for different events at the university I went to grad school (which happens to be in the same city I work). It's pretty low risk, in that you can commit to an event one evening without needing to commit to anything specific for the long term. They also usually have different formats for events so you can pick something you feel you can help more with.

Constantly. I was the chair of an student development team that runs AI Tournaments (http://siggame.io/). We get a constant stream of freshmen and most of them are very new with programming. I don't think our organization would survive if we didn't mentor new people. Since graduating I still mentor people in programming, resume building and other things.

I do have my work cut out for me though since they are usually still students.

Outside of work? Not anything formal.

I offer mentoring as a consulting service. It's often a followup of some longer training. It's lots of fun when it happens. We usually talk once or twice a week and discuss "the problem of the moment". Contracts like this usually last 3-6 months, and I probably do one every couple of years.

There isn't a huge demand for this sort of 'one-on-one' training since most programmers with moderate experience can "Google until it works"

I do ad-hoc mentoring (electronics and computing) to primary and secondary school children in the UK as a STEM Ambassador (www.stem.org.uk) - I help with code clubs, attend STEM days and career days. This is a voluntary role and my company allows 3 days of paid leave for 'community day' work.

The engagements with people are not long-standing, but it is rewarding to see someone expand their knowledge, work out a technical challenge or find and fix a bug in their code.

I'm the programming mentor for a high school FIRST robotics team. I was one of the team's founding students over 15 years ago. (Team 498!)

I do this as well (Team 4534)! I was also a founding student though we only started 5 years ago.

I've created a video series on advanced javascript (i.e. how to go from basics to product), people wanted more help, so I'd set up a Discord server where I help viewers with their js questions. It's a pretty cool experience since I quite frequently get question that make me go: "hmm, I have no idea how / why / where", so I have to learn more myself.

There are a couple of CS programs, especially community colleges, where they actively ask for folks with industry experience to mentor students.

There are also boot camp programs that do the same. In particular, I have mentored at Hackbright Academy, and I only have great things to say about the experience. I am pretty sure that I get more out of the experience of mentoring the students than they do :)

I do some paid mentoring. I don't need the money, but I insist people pay to confirm their commitment, and ensure I am not wasting my time. It's a policy I recommend.

How did I get started? I was asked if I would agree to it. As a former CTO and engineering manager with 40 years experience on very large projects in commerce and industry, I offer a different perspective and level of experience.

You would be surprised to see how many people in your professional circle would be ready to mentor you. All you have to do is ask.


Here is my list:

* I run a developer user group in town that meets once a month to talk about various topics.

* I help run a code camp here in town (not affiliated with Microsoft) that meets once a year and attracts 800 people, about 200 are school age.

* I attend panel discussions at some of the code schools.

* I help high school kids in science competitions with coding projects.

* Code reviews in exchange for beer.

I started a meetup to fill a niche in the town I lived in regarding a technology stack I was proficient in (PHP and MySQL in Ann Arbor, MI). Attendance was usually less than 10 per day, but that made it easy to give everyone personal attention. Fast forward a few years and now I regularly mentor at Nodeschools.

I work on my own startup with a co-founder so I can't mentor at work. Over this past summer, I mentored a college junior as part of the Code2040 (http://www.code2040.org/) program.

I offer to meet random people for coffee several times a week, sometimes it turns out to e networking, sometimes it turns out to be ad-hoc advice/mentoring, I just try to put myself out there for people to use as they'd like and see what happens.

Just curious, how do you find random people to meet for coffee? From online communities like HN?

I created some specific 'coffee' time slots in my calender and use https://calendly.com/ to organise the time slots (and put location details etc in as well) and then I just occasionally post to LinkedIn with the link saying I'm open to chats. I tend to get 1 or 2 every time I post.

It's definitely not 100% effective but works for what I want at the moment.

A bit at local hackerspaces. Mostly basic IT security for laypeople.

I know others who do a lot more admirable work with coder dojo and mentoring kids. They're always looking for more mentors but I have a hard time balancing my personal life schedule already.

I help mentor at my local Python meetup. It usually involves getting people set up, guiding them to resources, and helping with problems they find in their projects. I found my meetup on Meetup.com and just started regularly attending.

I do some deep learning/self-driving car talks and mentoring; thinking about mentoring at Udacity and making a few courses on Udemy on interesting applied deep/reinforcement learning topics when I have time.

Yes, as a volunteer mentor at Defy Ventures [defyventures.org].

They help formerly-incarcerated people with their entrepreneurial goals. Highly recommend volunteering there if they have presence in your area.

Worth checking out http://www.whosmentoring.com

I would love to and have looked briefly for opportunities. I'd like to do video/screensharing mentoring for Rails pro bono. If anyone has suggestions, I'm interested.

The sad question is more if I do mentoring inside of work.

Yes, through a weekly Meetup I started attending hosted by investors to meet entrepreneurs. After a few years I (the mentee) became a mentor.

Twice a week I manage a group of disabled children for a few hours.

I am a world of warcraft raid leader. Started as a WoW raider 10+ years ago.

I mentor at a bootcamp, over codementor.com and directly to my past students, hoping to expand that in the future.

Do you mean mentor, or tutor?

I've had a number of teaching-type jobs over the years. First, as a martial arts instructor in early college. Then as a math, physics, and programming tutor. I kept up math tutoring after college for a few years, mostly for friends and family still going through university. Also, I've been the technical lead on a number of my work projects, which requires a level of mentorship when juniors are on the team.

But I hadn't done anything in a few years and so a few months ago I tried to heed the call that "the world needs more mentors". I spent a solid month with about a dozen people whom said they wanted a mentor, in the topics specifically covered by my FOSS project. I spent tons of time on writing beginner's documentation, creating a whole series of github issues to gently walk people through getting into the project, started personal conversations with each person to discover their goals and how they wanted to contribute.

They ate up all the "for first timers" tickets where I provided explicit directions on single-line changes to make to the code. They never went on to any of the easy tasks, not ever asked me for any help past the first intro.

Since the advent of "code bootcamps", I've noticed a trend that when people say they need a mentor--especially just after having read some semifamous techie on Twitter say a mentor is essential--they really mean they want a tutor. They want a lesson plan. They want tutorials (notice the root word there?) with step by step instructions. They want someone to give them the answers after trying an exercise or two.

That's not mentorship. That's teaching and it's a difficult, full-time job that should be paid. Mentorship is learning your own path, with an oracle you can bounce ideas off when you get truly stuck. A mentor shouldn't even really have to prepare anything, just be able to point you in the right direction when you have a tough question. Other programmers who know me in person tend to learn I'm productive and will ask me questions from time to time. That is mentorship.

So people who say they need a mentor, or those who say they don't feel qualified to be a mentor, you probably don't know what you're talking about. Mentorship is just using someone else's experience to take shortcuts. If you have any level of experience, you can mentor anyone with less. Hell, it's often not even about that, even. Often it's just being a quiet ear who can ask probing questions.

If it sounds like mentorship isn't that valuable, that's because it isn't. You shouldn't strictly need it, because your entire career will rest on your ability to read and figure things out on your own, so you might as well start now. And you are probably already capable of mentoring, even if you feel like you only just started. Find a good chatroom on your topic and you probably have all the mentorship you need--and have probably already been mentoring other people, if you're active.

> That's teaching and it's a difficult, full-time job that should be paid.

As someone who taught quite a few C and other programming courses at an adult education college, I absolutely agree with this statement. If anything, it's a slight understatement.

Not sure if advice to startups counts.

I think it does. I've sat in on mentorships for small businesses via the local Economic Development dept. at city hall.

Very cool. I think advising others helps clarify one's own thinking.

No, but I'd like to.

Me too. Maybe this is a good opportunity for somebody to plug their tutoring-as-a-service platform?

No, I don't.

Albeit the question was badly put, this is obviously not the expected answer :)

While this answer is a bit short on detail, it does answer the question presented by OP.

Are people therefore downvoting for the poster's lack of explanation, or because the poster doesn't mentor someone?

They're downvoting because a very large number of people don't do it, and it should be obvious that OP is interested in those primarily those who do -- or at least, those with reasons either way.

Just saying "No" presumes we care that this specific guy doesnt do some specific thing. It's quite arrogant.

Hmm yes, I mostly agree, in this case the answer is very short AND we can assume that OP only wants responses from the small percentage of people who do do this

I originally was imagining this thread to be a poll, and then the crowd was upvoting affirmative answers and downvoting answers that were the opposite

About 3 years ago now (in 2014, time flies) I had two past students who had graduated from our community college and then gone on to get their Bachelors in Computer Science who hadn't been able to find jobs after graduating and that had been maybe in 2010/2011 or so. I worked with one in the Spring and then the other during the Fall semester.

They each were very much at a beginner level so I essentially started providing them with books out of my library and having them work through those and me providing lots of feedback to them and guiding them up in their skills (starting with HTML, CSS and working up to JavaScript and modern PHP programming, with things like Composer/Packagist and new frameworks like Laravel coming into the conversations and also trying to introduce them to other needed developer skills like Git/Github that would help make them employable).

In each case they were volunteering for that semester with my small Online Services department of one (me), so my main goal was building up their skills so they could be marketable next time they started applying for positions and I wasn't trying to use them for just building things I needed to build (if anything, I spent quite a bit of one on one time with them and took them out to lunch most of the days they spent with me a few times each week).

My work at the time was a bit all over the place so I wasn't doing a ton of development myself but I had been adding in a lot of these skills too so it was good to review with them and share what I had learned which in also helped reinforce my own knowledge too.

Kind of in the middle of the semester and then toward the end I gave them a realistic mini-project or two that they could work through for the college that way they can have something to point to that they had done (one of the things I remember sharing with each of them is that in an interview it's really nice to be able to point out specific stories/scenarios/projects that you've worked on to share).

Locally those jobs are pretty rare, but luckily the first guy was able to apply for a job that had come up just a month or so after the Spring semester and get one of the good local jobs in web development. For the second guy it took a little longer, but he ended up being able to get a position in San Diego and he and his wife moved up there (his wife needed to transfer to another school for her work, but I think it at all panned out for them).

I rarely get to talk with anyone else locally about what I do, so in that way it's pretty lonely so when I do have someone locally that's interested in programming/development it's always nice to share and help them out.

It's hard to keep up on an ongoing basis since it is pretty energy intensive, but it's definitely nice/rewarding when you do have good people to mentor.

My local python meetup in Chicago (ChiPy)runs an outstanding mentorship program that I have mentored for twice. The program lead does a great job of matching mentees with mentors- so all skill levels can apply.

If you're interested in mentoring in Chicago, I'd recommend coming to a meetup and saying hello!

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