Having a mentor can benefit your career and your life in general as a developer dramatically.
Bernd Verst, Cloud Developer Advocate from Microsoft, explains that mentorships helped him tremendously in developing his technical and soft skills, and with achieving his career goals in the long run.
But what can you do if you’re on your own and you just don’t seem to be able to find a classical mentor?
There are a ton of ways to fix this. First, let’s clarify what a mentor actually is.
Contrary to popular belief a mentor doesn’t have to be this one person that teaches you everything about your life and career every single day.
Every person in your life or in your office can teach you something that brings you further on your path.
Just look around. Anybody at school, college, work, any friend or family member may have experiences in areas that can provide you a perspective on your current situation that you haven’t seen before.
Think about that. Your grandma might not have written a single line of code in her life, yet she can teach you a way of life or work that can help you solve your problems.
The more common way, of course, is having a mentor at work. But, again, don’t look for a particular person. Just start asking everybody on your team. If you have any questions, ask.
I know that it’s easier said than done. Especially as a beginner, you might not want to admit, that you don’t know something and you feel embarrassed about that. Trust me, even the professionals with 30+ years experience don’t know everything. So throw this mindset away and start asking as many questions as you can.
Now there’s one problem with that behavior. What if it’s not only about technical or work related stuff? What if you’re interested in personal growth, for instance? Or maybe even topics like family and children?
These things go hand in hand. A good personal life leads to good results at work and vice versa. But unfortunately, these topics are rarely taken seriously in an office – and maybe you don’t want to share any personal issues with your co-workers, which is totally understandable.
So you can try to reach your friends. But what if they are not available, too?
I figured, that with the right medium you can totally mentor yourself.
What do I mean by that?
For starters, grab a book. Have a look at all these biographies. I bet there are successful and famous people you’re looking up to or you’re at least interested in and they have published a book about their lives.
Great examples are the biographies about Steve Jobs and Elon Musk. It is unbelievable what an impact these pages can have. You get the whole package. Work-related stuff and insights for a new way of living your life. You might experience totally different perspectives which may lead to building new habits. Simply amazing.
Even more amazing is the fact, that it doesn’t stop with books nowadays.
Look at YouTube. I know, I know, many people think it’s a big waste of time. But these people haven’t found the right YouTubers yet. There are a ton of really great tutorials that can teach you everything about a technology you need to know to start a new position. When it comes to personal development as a software developer you should try the channel of John Sonmez. Or you can have a look at this channel. ;)
Last but not least, you’re using some kind of mentorship right at this moment. Blogs or online communities are great ways to learn and grow. I’m extremely grateful for dev.to, for instance. It’s hard to take the time to comment and discuss with the community, but the great amount of very well written posts is a gift and reading or at least skimming them may benefit you in a lot of ways.
To sum it up, don’t think about mentorship in an old-fashioned way. Use all the tools we have nowadays to grow. And it doesn’t stop there at all. Being a mentor yourself and teaching others about your experiences will also help to become a better version of yourself.