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Discussion on: I Read 21 Articles About How to Become a Senior Developer So You Don't Have To

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Sam Borick Author

Thanks for the response Allison!

I think there's two different things people mean when they talk about 'seniority'. There's this concept of an individual contributor, someone who is able to do whatever they do extremely well in isolation and isn't expected to do anything related to management.

Then there's this other concept of the 'management track', where these high performers become managers of other people. This is not for everyone.

… but why can't senior devs be mentors just by being there?

I think this is totally fair! There is so much value in being an amazing individual contributor, this one included.

The reason I wanted to highlight mentorship is because I believe that most people can do a good job of mentoring, if they just put a little time into thinking about it and being intentional. It’s not for some people, but I think there are a lot of people who could be great mentors but haven’t tried to, because they don’t see how it would benefit themselves or their organization.

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Allison Walker

I don't think we disagree at all, Sam.

I know this is only one aspect being highlighted. My concern is only when it comes to employment decisions and performance evaluations. My thought is there can be different expressions of mentorship that don't necessarily have to be as explicit and traditional, and those can be valuable too. Perhaps thinking in this way can help more people consider themselves as mentors.

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murrayvarey profile image

Fascinating conversation -- I'd never considered the limitations with how organisations perceive mentors.

As you say, there are many forms of mentorship, some of which go unnoticed. Some of my best mentors have been excellent -- yet quiet -- developers who led very much by example. Despite saying little, every now and then they would offer a nugget of advice that completely changed how I worked. I wonder now if this was recognised.