re: Be a good mentor, not a dickhead VIEW POST


As someone who has never had a programming job, but is considering the possibility, this post gives me a huge sense of relief. A lot of times, from the outside, it seems like the industry standard is to hit the ground running on Day 1, know what you are doing and what is going on (or fake it with confidence until you do), and make it look easy. Knowing that there are people out there who are willing to help somebody get ramped up and comfortable is a big deal!


You'll learn the hard way that some orgs. do exactly what you are afraid of, and some do things the smart way. If a job stresses the cool tech, the ping pong tables, competitive culture etc., be concerned. Also be concerned if they don't seem to have ANY structure, because those orgs. will bog you down in doing things that nobody else does.

If it's a clear entry level -- or open ended -- job spec, and they clearly hire at all levels or seem to be hiring mostly juniors, then you are likely on the right track.

That said, I don't think anywhere I've worked has expected those coming from bootcamps or fresh out of college to be up and running in hours. It's a known factor, and usually someone is willing to work with you if you show interest in learning.


Yes, you're quite right that it depends a lot on the organization. From my experience it seems that larger companies are better at integrating junior level people. Startups have a problem that they need people up to speed fast. That said, startups often have really great people for mentors, it's just that they might not find much time to do it.


Identifying the companies that are able to help their employees in the ways this article suggests, is an important skill. In that section of the interview where they ask if you've got any questions, arm yourself with a probing set of questions about how they support their employees. Such as:

  • what induction process exists
  • if there is a mentoring system
  • how employees can expect to be taught new ideas/concepts
  • what percentage of work time is expected to be billable/productive
  • training budgets etc

Some employers don't have the answers and depending on your situation or expectations this isn't necessarily a bad thing. But just be aware of what you're getting into. Not all companies can afford (or believe they can't afford) to support staff as thoroughly as they'd like and not all will willingly admit to this.

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