Let’s face it, trying to master anything new on your own can be a wearing journey. After all, we humans are social creatures. And if your goal is to learn programming from scratch (not the easiest skill) the road can be long and full of terror, figuratively speaking.
CodeGym as a platform has everything in place for you not to feel alone
, while learning and progressing solo online. But for some people, it’s just too hard to go all the way without anyone watching their back.Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone (2002)
Why you may need a coding mentor
That is why mentoring is quite a popular concept in software development. Finding a mentor can be extremely useful for those who feel they cannot make it on their own, generally have trouble with solo learning, or just looking to apply every possible tool to take maximum from learning.
For beginners in coding, having a mentor can be very helpful. Having someone professional and experienced supervising your learning process could save you from countless common mistakes, direct your efforts in the right way, and just support with good advice.
How to find a mentor? There are a number of ways you can find yourself a proper coding mentor, and this is what we are going to talk about today.
1. Search on LinkedIn
The world’s biggest social network for professional communication is still a go-to place to find serious connections, even though today it’ll be considerably harder to get a reply from someone in Linkedin whom you don’t know (different sorts of spam is to blame). To find a coding mentor on LinkedIn, try going through your current connections, looking for someone who may be suitable. If you don’t have anyone in your list of connections yet, then try searching for interesting profiles using terms such as “software engineer,” “developer,” “Java developer” or “back end developer.” If you are looking for a Java coding mentor, it would of course make sense to search for experienced Java developers, preferably working for reputable companies.
Start with studying profiles of your potential mentors to understand what experience they may actually have, what roles and positions they worked at, in what companies, etc. Your goal is to find someone who is truly experienced and could potentially make a good mentor.
You should identify 5 to 10 such people, and then message each one of them. Try to make your first message as unique as possible (better not to send everyone the same message template), explaining your goal as clearly as possible and asking for some help or advice, but without being too intrusive. Chances are you will get a reply from someone.
2. Attend real life coding meetups
If you are based in a somewhat big city or any place with an active tech meetups scene, then you have an even better way to find your coding mentor. Setting up connections in person is always much easier than online, at least if your communication skills are good enough. Just check if there are some interesting coding-related meetups near you, find the one you like and join it. You can try using Meetup.com or check for other popular meetup websites and apps in your area.
3. Attend virtual coding meetups
Attending virtual meetups online is also an option, even though it may not be as effective as going to an offline meeting for some real life interaction. But with virtual meetups, you get much more choice, as you are free to attend events anywhere in the world. Other than that, the approach is pretty much the same: search for the meetups related to Java (if you are looking to learn how to code in Java of course) or at least back-end development in general, use them to meet and get to know experienced developers, ask them for tips and recommendations, and choose a mentor among those who are willing to help.
4. Join open source GitHub projects
We were talking about the importance of working on open source GitHub projects for coding beginners previously and even made this top of the best open Java projects on GitHub
. How it may assist you in finding a coding mentor? Working on something together makes people closer. Try joining a project and start building connections with other more experienced developers who are also contributing to it. After the initial connection is set, you can try asking them about mentorship.
5. Join StackOverflow, freeCodeCamp, Hackernoon, and other developer communities
In case LinkedIn and GitHub didn’t bring the results you were looking for, try joining some of the most popular online coding communities and do the same thing, which is searching for experienced developers in your field and asking them for help without being too intrusive. Stack Overflow, freeCodeCamp, Hackernoon would be among the best ones to choose from. If you are looking for alternatives, try HackerNews, CodeProject, or Hashnode. Women Who Code could be a pretty good choice for female programmers.
6. Try Quora, Facebook, Twitter, and other social media websites
Don’t forget about other social media websites that are also popular among software developers. You can find lots of experienced coders on Q&A website Quora, for example. On Quora you can even start with asking specific questions right away, waiting for expert developers to reply. Let this become the beginning of a beautiful friendship. Or mentorship. Facebook has lots of coding-related groups as well, while Twitter often is the best way to reach someone who’s not easy to reach in other ways.
7. Check friends and acquaintances
If finding a mentor online doesn’t work out for you for some reason, or if you are simply looking for some good old in person communication, try looking for suitable people among your friends and acquaintances. If you don’t know any programmers, look for friends of friends: ask people you know to introduce you to someone if they are friends with experienced developers. After all, the 6 handshakes rule is still valid, so don’t be afraid (or shy) to use it.
8. Practice coding and seize mentoring opportunities when they arise
Finally, you can just pursue your goal by learning solo and trying to code every time when you can. Sooner or later, one way or another, you will stumble on more experienced developers, either online or in real life. The key here is to keep going ahead and interact with the developer community. Ask as many questions as you can everywhere you can: be it CodeGym’s Help section
, Quora, or StackOverflow. And watch for people who notice your enthusiasm and express the desire to help.
One important piece of advice as an epilogue. When looking for a mentor and after you found one, it is important to focus on the relationship instead of information. In other words, don’t abuse the relationship with the mentor by asking him/her too many questions too often or just being intrusive. Do your best to contact the mentor only with specific questions that you prepared ahead of time, and try to bring something on the table too (as much as you can) — meaning, do your best in order for this relationship to be beneficial long term to both of you. Otherwise, chances are your potential mentors will be ghosting you, or will be giving you only basic advice that won’t make much difference.