Hi, Ryan! Thanks for the interesting topic.
As I understood from the other answers, you had first figured out the goals of your mentee and then adjusted the mentoring process to the goals, am I right?
Thanks for the interest and questions Anna!
Your understanding is absolutely correct. I will say that I did have a strategy that we would talk though as well, but even though at a high level we had steps we were working to, we adjusted every time to the circumstances.
This question about tasks is really great and very important to the mentoring process as I do it. At the end of each session I try very hard to negotiate a next step that they will tell me about before or at our next session. What makes a good next step is one that clearly relates to the goals, is relevant to their current situation, and also stretches them a little as well. The stretch is an interesting thing, because a good next step needs to be a little uncomfortable so that learning and change happen. To accomplish that I'd quite literally haggle about options and confirm that it'd be a stretch. Cautiously optimistic sums it up.
I alluded above that I had a strategy in mind for my mentee. This was possible because we were paired together because I had previous experience in the areas they wanted help with. Having said that, we did talk several times through the process about if that strategy makes sense or not at any given moment.
What other questions do you have?
Thanks for the answer! A couple of more questions if that's possible:
We did do some coding exercises together. We'd use various tools to do that, but the problems would be either ones I gave or ones that they brought to noodle over.
Yes. Towards the end of our time, we'd pair almost every week. I think pairing is a vital technique for any developer to be comfortable with, and when it comes to mentoring its the best way to provide immediate feedback to not only the code but what different approaches exist to the problem.
Thanks again ) One last question: how much time were you spending a week on mentoring (including preparing/planning)?
Most weeks were not much more than a 30-45 minute phone call and an occasional email here and there.
Towards the end, we'd have more than one session a week so we'd get closer to 2-3 hours a week across two calls/pairing.
In terms of prep, the only prep that I would do regularly was review notes from our last conversation so I could pick up the conversation where we left off. So maybe a 2-3 minutes of prep on that end.
I think I easily could have and maybe should think about how much better I could have been if I set more time aside to prepare. At the same time, I've mentored people previously that wanted nearly the exact same goals, so the territory was pretty familiar almost the entire time.
For people who are getting used to mentoring I'd recommend something a bit more specific. First, I'd recommend mentors intentionally create a, "Mentoring Stance." This is isn't anything magical, but its the version of you that is closer to an ideal mentor while remaining genuine. Spend time before each session looking at your stance and learn enough about yourself so that you can adopt that stance prior to the conversation. Also, review the goals, relationship, and past few sessions of notes. Look for trends or common things. The last thing before the conversation starts is to make their agenda the only one that matters.
Thanks for the detailed answers, Ryan.
We're a place where coders share, stay up-to-date and grow their careers.
We strive for transparency and don't collect excess data.