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Kyle d'Oliveira – Meet the Mentor

I am principal software engineer based out of Vancouver, B.C., Canada. I have been deep in the coding world for over 15 years. I thrive on finding and tackling hard technical challenges. Recently I've been working hard to become a knowledge producer rather than just a knowledge consumer which has had me speaking at conferences, teaching others, and of course, getting into mentorship.
Kyle d'Oliveira

Principal Software Engineer, Aha!

Why did you decide to become a mentor?

I knew that one of the biggest joys in my career was seeing other people succeed and I would have a feeling of pride if I knew that I contributed positively to their success. Many years ago, I started a local mentorship community to foster this kind of environment. There was some ups and down as we were all figuring out how to be good mentors and mentees, but overall it was great to have a community really trying to help and improve each other.

Later on in my career, I started seeing elements of how software engineering isn't very diverse and I really wanted to make some kind of impact even if small. I decided I would try to spread a wider net with mentorship and I joined MentorCruise. My goal wasn't to have a side hustle, but instead to offer mentorship at a low cost to those who are underrepresented in the tech industry.

How did you get your career start?

When I was young, I always wanted to get into building games. That pushes me towards doing computer science in university and eventually getting a job for a web development company working with Ruby on Rails. I loved the language, framework, and most importantly, the community so much that I never left. Ever since my first day working with Rails, I have been focused on deliberate practice. I was constantly gathering feedback from myself, my colleagues and the community as was to improve myself. I really internalized the mindset of always learning and pushing growth and I am very passionate whenever I'm supposed others in those same values.

One of the biggest inflection points in my career though was going to a large programming conference and being around many talented individuals. There was so many good talks both in the schedule and in the hallways of the conference, that really changed how I operate. I never really had a singular mentor that helped me, but instead I have a great community that I felt backed by.

What do mentees usually come to you for?

There are 2 main things people have recently come to me for.

The first is getting ready for technical interviews. For these, I focus on providing mock technical interview which could include technical deep dives, high level conversations, or pair programming exercises. I make all of the notes I would have made if I was in a real hiring interview and then I try to give candid and constructive feedback on all of the areas of strengths and weaknesses. I also make time to answer all of my mentee's questions both through calls and via text every day. I want them to feel prepared and ready. 

The other common thing I have people come to me for is growing their technical skills. To do this, I need a mechanism to provide feedback on their work. This could be through me reviewing their code, architectural ideas, or even how they are approaching getting buy in for their ideas. Sometimes, I provide exercises that we will review together to go through all of the strengths and weakness of the implementation.

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

One of my favourite mentorship stories was very early in my mentoring career. I had an individual who really wanted to get an entry level programming position but only knew the basics. I knew this would be a long journey but my mentee had really bought in and because of that so did I. We met almost every week for a year. Somedays we would talk in a Q&A style for a long time, at other times we would do exercises together with me explaining concepts as we went. There was even a particular exercise we did from scratch somewhere between five to ten times and every time we did it, we would look and see the progress compare to the previous versions.

At the end of the year, after doing a lot of interview prep and skill building, my mentee successfully landed their first engineering role and has been doing it every since. This was probably one of the biggest highlights of my career to see their success.

What are you getting out of being a mentor?

I feel like I'm starting to make an impact on the engineering community around me in small but growing ways. Because I'm also focusing on trying to help anyone who feels underrepresented, I also feel like I'm starting to make impacts, even if small, at improving diversity in the industry. I know there is still a very long way to go still, but each step is important.

I also recently was recognized at the organization I am working for pushing the team towards excellence and this is something that I want to do for everyone around me. I have found a lot of success for myself and I would love to be able to share what I can to help others achieve the same level of success.

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