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David Stephenson – Meet the Mentor

I am a React and TypeScript engineer and mentor with over 10 years experience. My specialties are absolute beginners, small businesses, and aspiring engineers. I have guided hundreds of students into their first development job and helped entrepreneurs and engineers form all backgrounds bring their vision to life.
David Stephenson

Mentor, Objective Enterprises

Why did you decide to become a mentor?

Like a lot of my students, I started without a formal background in computer science. I learned programming to help with my math homework and make video games for fun. Having that skill with me changed my career and outlook on the world. Everyone that wants to make great software should be able to. I know you can cross that gap in an engaging, accessible, and fun way. It's an honor to help anyone gains the skills to become a professional engineer. After years working on great software teams in the US and Europe, I realized I wanted to be a teacher. When I'm collaborating, the best part of my job helping colleagues when they're stuck. My joy was infectious, and my teammates started coming to me straight way to get help. I became the go-to person for questions. I started organizing internal teaching programs and writing coding guides. When I transitioned to teaching full time, the feedback I got was incredible. After several years teaching and designing courses, I started my own company to focus on one-on-one tutoring full time.

How did you get your career start?

I didn't plan on becoming a software engineer. I studied international security policy and started my career as an intelligence analyst. I used open online data to understand conflict zones around the world. To make my work easier, I wrote scraping and natural language processing apps to collect data for me. My colleagues saw the output and wanted the same, so I taught them the command line and we build a tool together. I found myself focusing more and more on mastering web technology and helping others use it. I left the intelligence field and became a web developer. I love writing code, but I got more joy from helping stuck colleagues and explaining the new technologies the team needed. My real role was creating knowledge sharing programs and mentoring juniors around me. I realized I had to transition to teaching full time, and the feedback I got from my students was incredible.

What do mentees usually come to you for?

My role is to simplify complex concepts, creating "aha" moments where things clicks into place. Mentees often come to me after investing significant effort to learn programming. Many students are working to land their first engineering job. Instead of cycling through tutorials, I encourage students to dive in and build real-world products. This hands-on approach cultivates the deeper skills that set advanced developers apart. A single impactful app with real users in a portfolio makes a big impression on employers. Industry professionals often grapple with impostor syndrome. There's constant pressure to stay ahead of the technological curve. I help students channel their energy into the technologies aligned with their goals. We talk about adapting to different professional cultures, dealing with managers, and navigating unclear requirements. I also guide product creators who have a vision but lack technical clarity. I help bring their ideas to life while giving them the skills to maintain and expand what they create. We are at an exciting moment in technology where a few hours of learning can give anyone the ability to create world-class products that rival major companies.

What's been your favourite mentorship success story so far?

One of my most cherished mentorship success stories was with my very first mentee. In the first software project I led, there was a brilliant data scientist on my team. She knew the most about the theory behind the app, but felt limited because she couldn't understand the application code. We needed her invaluable insights, so I tutored her role in application development. She grasped the concepts right away and became a core contributor. She wrote the algorithms that led to the product's success. She went on to achieve remarkable feats in her career at a prominent software company. Recently, I had a great experience with a coding enthusiast based in Europe. Despite their passion, they struggled to find employment. We did two sessions, an intensive skill review and job application strategy workshop. In a week, they had secured a job. It brought them immense satisfaction and validation, and their joy was genuinely inspiring.

What are you getting out of being a mentor?

Every day, I have the privilege of helping passionate and talented individuals. I get to meet new people and help them create something life changing. I learn from the students I teach, creating a collaborate environment of continuous learning. We explore new frontiers together, expanding our technical and personal horizons. Their growth becomes my own as bring different ideas to life. Teaching code and career coaching is an absolute joy. Guiding countless individuals into their first professional engineering roles has been immensely fulfilling. Witnessing their transformative journeys fuels my motivation. The opportunity to collaborate with people across the globe enriches every session. Every student, every moment is brimming with excitement and reward.

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