Post written by Brett Gibson, Owner at AdventureTech
Every day I see more and more developers becoming agents of positive cultural change in their own organizations and IT communities. Either by nature or occupational hazard, we enjoy problem solving. It’s just how we tick.
Because software touches every aspect of a modern organization, our opinions are being sought to help solve larger systems pictures. As we do so, mentors and thought-leaders have become an indispensible part of that transformation to better practices.
Developers are in a constant learning culture and it can be an overwhelming experience for new developers to even know where to begin. Given the pace at which new technologies and practices arrive and the breadth (and depth) of knowledge we’re expected to retain, ours is an industry that benefits immensely from mentoring.
Mentoring assists with technology, practice and process learning curves, team cohesion, software delivery, stakeholder engagement and employee retention (something that all IT departments face).
Rather than tread ground that’s already been walked before, a mentor will show you solutions that have already been formed and help you avoid technical dead-ends that have already been taken. It can also help a company avoid Technical Debt born of rookie mistakes.
So what are the qualities you should seek in a mentor?
1. Seek out a subject matter expert (if one exists) in your area. Someone who has invested the time it takes to understand something deeply.
2. Seek out someone who actually practices what they preach and who can explain why alternate approaches might fail. But beware of a mentor claiming subject matter expert status in a technology that’s 10 years old… We call that archaeology.
3. Seek out developer mentors who are the communicators in your discipline. The ones who publically speak and blog are excellent choices because they’re brave enough to publically stand behind their facts and convictions.
4. Seek out developers who are trying to address larger industry dysfunctions like Agile, Lean, Kanban. These are your thought-leaders. They are the ones attempting to make this industry a better place to work in. They are the culture changers – the ones who can help with larger company pictures.
5. Seek out a mentor who is also focused on community. We’re fortunate in Kansas City that the developer community is so actively collaborative in nature.
Good developers love to learn and share it. Good mentors show up.
Here’s a quick list of groups and events that you might think about checking out. This list is not exhaustive, but a great starting point if you’re wanting to find a mentor or simply become more active in the community.
Limited WIP Society Kansas City - A monthly meet up for developers interested in the Lean and Kanban software development. A great roundtable on topics suggested and voted on by those who attend. Moderated by Troy Tuttle.
KCNext – Recently merged with SITAKS serving as a regional advocate for KC Tech companies.