Written by Jake Sta Teresa Aug. 12, 2021
Why did you decide to become a mentor?
I discovered my passion for teaching early on. When I was in high school, I tutored math and science subjects to our neighbours kids. It felt great to watch my students progress and learn new topics. This experience helped me realise how much I like teaching.
I have more than 15 years of experience in software engineering and have spent half of it in senior and technical leadership roles. I dedicate a part of my day teaching and mentoring team mates on various career and programming topics. I enjoy the experience of sharing my knowledge to other people. I take pride in knowing I was instrumental to another persons success. In the process, it helps me improve the way I articulate the topics I teach. And also makes me more sensitive and adaptive to the difficulties people experience when learning new things.
So when I first heard about MentorCruise on the IndieHackers podcast, it was only natural for me to sign up. I immediately fell in love with the idea of being able to deliver personalised one to one mentorships from the comforts of my home office.
How did you get your career start?
I spent a year juggling numbers studying actuarial science. I decided it wasn’t for me. I took some BASIC programming lessons in high school but never really enjoyed it. Then, I studied computer science. I decided to try coding again after I learned about the success of one of my neighbours. He studied computer science and worked in very good companies and changed his families life for the better.
I made the decision based on a hunch. I chose well. Being a programmer literally changed my life. I was able to meet a lot of interesting people. Worked in different countries. Met the love of my life. And now live a relatively comfortable life with my wife and kids settled down in Sydney.
People say don’t go into coding for the money but because you love it. This is insensitive and judgemental. Everybody’s situation is unique. If like me, your motivation is financial, I say go for it. Who knows you might even like it in the end. I know I did.
How do you usually set up mentorships?
I set-up a one hour meeting to understand the mentees background, their goals and timelines. Then we create a development plan based on these goals. This development plan forms the basis of what we will do every week. This is our backlog. We will run weekly sprints, where each sprint aims to address an item or 2 from this development plan. At the start of the week, we have a 30 minute meeting where we do a retrospective of the week before. After this, we plan for the week ahead. We look at the development plan and pick an item or 2 that we plan to address on the coming week. After this, we break down the tasks so we have a clear course of action.
We do daily stand-ups from Monday to Friday via LinkedIn. It doesn’t have a fixed time but preferably first thing in the morning. During the daily stand-ups we talk about what they did yesterday, what they plan to do today and what they need help with. I do code and design reviews throughout the week and ensure they are moving smoothly towards our goal. Through it all, I assume multiple roles. I am the dev lead, the scrum master and the accountability partner.
What’s been your favourite mentorship story so far?
In the last few weeks, 3 of my mentees got into their first tech job. Prior to this, we did resume/CV reviews and talked about compensation and benefits. They were able to negotiate a good pay and home office package because of this. They were very grateful for all the help and guidance I provided them during this process. I was like a proud dad watching his kids go out in the world for the first time. Afraid that they’re not ready but also optimistic that they will do great things.
I understand a mentorship can take many forms and lead to different outcomes. Most of my mentorships focus on developing a learning plan for a new language, technology or skill. Some are more on an advisory capacity. Like answering specific questions about a project/technology or giving career advice. It all depends on where they are in their career. At the end of the day, I do my best to ensure my mentees will reach their goals and enjoy the full benefits of a great mentorship in their career.
"I do my best to ensure my mentees will reach their goals and enjoy the full benefits of a great mentorship in their career." – @JakeStaTeresa
What are you getting out of being a mentor?
Running mentorships has helped me keep myself updated with software development trends and concepts. Mentees come to me asking for help with different technologies. I see this as an opportunity to always keep myself on the cutting edge of technology. I am a lifelong learner. I believe in taking calculated bets on technological concepts like languages and frameworks. I have sees one too many languages/frameworks go out of favour to be tied up on a single technology. This is what I love about being a mentor.
As a mentor, I have developed my approach on explaining different concepts. Which not only helps me run efficient mentorships but also helps me manage the teams I run at work better. It has helped me become more creative and analytical in finding the right level of abstraction in which I operate in to explain a concept to different developers.
Our 'state of mentorship' report sums up the benefits, reports and effects that mentorship has on the modern working environment.