Published July 15, 2020
Similar to coaches (though not the same), mentors are a great way to sharpen your skills and add valuable knowledge to your repertoire.
Illustration from Icons8
A mentor is anyone who provides you with insight, accountability, and support while you study or work for something. A coding mentor fills in the same role for programmers — helping them build their careers and advance in their coding journey.
Below, we’ve outlined six of the most important ways coding mentorship helps programmers succeed in their field.
An easy trap to fall into, the rut of routine can really slow down your self-development process.
Practicing the same things each day, sticking with the same one or two coding languages, and spending way too much time on a project that will never be finished.
A mentor serves as a great outside influence on your learning — noticing when you’re just spinning your wheels, and throwing new challenges at you instead. This might be asking you a question you’d never thought of before, asking you to build a type of program you haven’t attempted yet, forcing you to build a program without a library, and more.
And how do they know? Because, chances are, they’ve been in the same position before.
Most modern education structures feature one teacher at the front of a room teaching a group of students. This structure took shape for reasons that make sense (there are far more students in the world than teachers) but is definitely less than ideal.
When you have just one teacher trying to teach thirty students, the result is a one-size-fits-all lecture that risks harming just as many as it helps. In a study by MIT, the average achievement score for these learning environments (which MIT calls “conventional” learning styles) was just 50%.
Even when making improvements to conventional learning — such as testing for mastery — the highest achievement score reached was 84%.
But in that same study, MIT also tested one-on-one mentorship, where it found an average achievement score of 95%. In other words, switching from a classroom environment to a mentor/tutor environment can increase your success by 45%.
It’s no secret that coding is one of the more isolating career paths. Even when you work in a team, you also spend a lot of time alone with your computer.
Paired up with a mentor, you have someone to share your successes with, someone to bounce ideas off, and someone to talk to about your passion for code.
This is especially important for coders still preparing for a first job. For many, the long months (possibly years) of learning how to code make it difficult to pursue programming long enough to build a career. A mentor will not only give you expert guidance during this journey, but they’ll keep you company along the way.
Regular code reviews are the difference between knowing and hoping that your code is good enough to get you hired. Without outside opinion, it can be tough to know if you’re hitting your goals.
This is as true for programming as it is for any other creative profession. You need feedback to guide you in the right direction and make sure you’re on the path.
With a coding mentorship, you have this at your disposal at all times. You can send your mentor projects you’re working on, get feedback on ideas, see if your solution to a problem is the best way forward, and get advice on what to add or remove from your apps.
And that input is invaluable!
Students of any subject always come back to the same question: “Why?”
Why am I learning this, why does that thing do what it does, why this instead of that? Without the right mentor, this question usually goes unanswered, and the student ends up with a collection of memorized rules with no understanding of why those rules exist.
By relying on a coding mentor, you not only have someone who can tell you the “why”s of programming, but who can hold thoughtful discussions with you, too.
Last but not least, a coding mentorship significantly increases your career potential in multiple ways.
For one thing, you have someone who has worked as a developer — and has gone through many of the same experiences you’re hoping to go through — to answer any questions you have. This can be something as detailed as what a programmer actually does on a day-to-day basis, or something as simple as what to wear for an interview.
Secondly, a coding mentor will help you understand which hard and soft skills are relevant to what you want to do. They can help you learn the right languages, develop the proper skills, and adopt the right apps and libraries so that you’re as fluent in industry lingo as possible.
And thirdly, a mentor can be a great source of recommendation for you during the job hunt. They can attest to your accomplishments, confirm everything you’ve been taught, and — if they have connections — maybe land you an exclusive work placement, too.
Taking on a coding mentor is a great way to enrich your programming journey, however, it’s usually not the first step you should take. For most new programmers, it’s better to wait until you have a few months, maybe even a year, of coding experience under your belt. That way, you’ll have a better idea of what you want out of your coding mentorship.
If you feel ready to work with a coding mentor but aren’t sure where to start, MentorCruise has mentors available and ready for whatever area of coding you’re most interested in. Come find your mentor today.