This week I decided to learn about how to “Find Mentors” by reading the pattern. This pattern gives advice about why and how apprentices should seek out to find mentors to continue down the path to becoming a journeyman. They give tips about attending conferences, joining online forums, and taking your potential mentors out to lunch if you have the opportunity.
I do agree that finding mentors is greatly important in the development process to become a successful software developer, but I think this pattern idolizes a certain type of developer and therefore limits the opportunities for mentorship for those who try to strictly follow what the pattern is advising. This pattern seems to focus on those who are directly working on the development of a particular language, framework, tool, or some variant of open-source software. They even pretty much open with the idea that it is very likely that your mentors are not local and that you will likely never meet them. I think that this is where the pattern is failing.
From my experience, there is almost always someone, or a group of people within a company that those with technical positions turn to for mentorship and advice. At my most recent internship, it was a man named Kurt who has worked on the proprietary software (Oracle) before signing onto the company that we both worked for over the summer (TJX). He initially was a contractor from Oracle, but TJX found that his expertise regarding the frameworks that made up our software made him too valuable to let go of and they hired him full time. He immediately became the go-to guy whenever anyone had a question about our software. He had been working on it for over 15 years and had gone through over 10 iterations of the software. A key thing to note is that while everyone asked him for help, they weren’t asking for mentorship. This is something that came with my internship as he was selected to be my “buddy”, which was just a fancy word for mentor. We spoke several times throughout the summer about both career goals, and different ways to solve problems. We spoke about how to solve certain problems that were specific, yet more general than our specific code base. To get this kind of mentorship, I didn’t need to lurk on an internet forum, and the same went for everyone I worked with that wanted to learn from him. All I had to do was ask. There will likely be a Curt everywhere, any of us end up working, and I plan on utilizing their mentorships.