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Alex Rohleder – Meet the Mentor

Hey πŸ‘‹! I'm a Brazilian with 7+ years of experience helping junior developers and four years helping with software engineer selection!
Alex Rohleder

Senior Software Consultant, Witted Oyj

Why did you decide to become a mentor?

I have always loved the technical side of things. For example, how libraries work and what are the best practices for a project. Explaining this to others was as entertaining as learning it in the first place, partially because I always understand more about something after teaching it.

MentorCruise became a catalyst for me to pass on this love for the technical side the same way I have done with the dozens of developers I worked with. My goal is to construct confidence in the mentee to take more responsibility for advancing their career and build confidence in myself to excel with my consulting clients.

How did you get your career start?

Eight years ago, during the first year of university, I decided that I wanted to learn faster than I was. I knew I wanted to be a web developer; I was just unsure about being front-end, back-end or full-stack.

I started applying to many jobs in my city; none would hire me without a degree or references. One even denied me to enter their office with shorts (it was 35+ Celcius outside) πŸ˜…

Shortly I decided to apply online instead, which allowed me to apply for many more jobs at once; I was playing the numbers game; I had no job, so any would do.

I got my first job in a Software House in a city nearby; I accepted a lower salary and dropped from university in exchange for being a full-time employee.

That was one of the best decisions for my career, I was 19 and had nothing to lose, so I risked it all (The all was nothing if put in perspective). Although I barely had the money for the bills, I was happy to see myself growing so much.

Me, at 23:07, happy to finally deploy something I've worked for a month, with overtime and no weekends.

A software house is a perfect first place to work because you’re dealing with multiple clients, exposing you to many projects, technologies, working methodologies and people. πŸ˜‰

After almost two years, I realised I was on a plateau. Then I started looking for jobs again, but this time outside my home country. I applied to more than 40 positions in the five countries I selected based on a life quality survey.

And here people, is another critical part of my career. I changed from a mid-level engineer to an intern and made the minimum wage allowed by law, but title or money was not my motivator.

I was speaking in English for the first time, learning how a billion-dollar company works; I was now living in a country I would never have imagined, Norway.

Nowadays, I’m a software consultant in Norway, super happy with my path and thrilled to help people at the start of their careers. I love how I found people that resembled myself at the early stages here at MentorCruise, and how I’m now able to fast-forward them!

The takeaway: Do not attach yourself to things that are not deeply important to you, such as job titles, degrees or money. Ultimately, what matters is how happy you’re with yourself and your career, not how successful people think you are.

What role did mentorship play in your past?

Being a mentor is very important in my personal and work life because it helps me sharpen my tech skills and gives me an incredible sense of accomplishment.

In 2016 I was instructing teenagers from less technologically included regions in Brazil; my employer at the time was very socially active and still hires the best of these students. The ones I prepared are now grown engineers. The work I did there may have changed their lives.

My mentors were never officially mentors, but they helped me so much, especially at the start. I think they saved much time in my career by just giving advice and being very open about the why of decisions. I started thinking for myself very early on, and I came to realisations about career goals that perhaps would have taken me years.

How do you usually set up mentorships?

I reply to applications telling them if I’m or not the best fit for what they want. From there, we figure out if we want to go for a 30 minutes call, where we meet and set up a structure for the mentorship.

The mentorship sessions happen every other week and are one hour long, often longer. During these sessions, I ask if we want to follow the plan or do something else, like solving a problem from their work or helping with an interview. At the end of a session, I send a debriefing email, which usually has instructions on tasks for the next session.

Who is your ideal mentee?

I like when they have a clear goal. For example, "I want to land a job", "I want to understand the tools I use at work", and "I want to be a technical reference at work".

This helps both of us to feel progress, and that's super important for morale. We ultimately want to expend time on things that matter and not feel stressed because the mentorship is on the way to something else.

What are you getting out of being a mentor?

Being a mentor trains me in passing knowledge and builds an online presence. Both are important for my career as a software consultant because they showcase to future clients what they can expect of me.

And besides that, there is the fact that I love side-projects and consolidating knowledge. Having mentees that are seeking experience matches perfectly with that. I now have projects where I can explain up-side-down and reflect precisely what a mentee might find in a real-world app.

Why should mentees seek out your advice?

I'm very technical and like to give mental models to approach problems. That by itself will ease the mentee's day-to-day work and interviews.

My goal is to set up a mentorship that can be used as a tool rather than just a course you must do because you paid for it.

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