Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Real Mentorship

I was interviewing for a team I was building and found someone just phenomenal.  He had a couple years experience and had quite a few technical gaps, but was just smart smart smart and just had a natural knack for design.  Like all the natural aptitude that makes a developer great - this guy had what it took to be a rockstar.  I was so excited to be able to hire this guy and coach him, I just couldn't wait!

And then... my project fell through, or at least was significantly delayed.  And I was so bummed.  I tried to make something work, because I saw the potential, but I couldn't make it work with clients that only wanted senior people.   And so I tried to let it go, but it just kept nagging at me...

A couple days ago, I met someone else pretty amazing.  But she had a different problem... she was in an environment with great people that she loved, but silo'd like in a time machine and had missed the last 10 years.  But she had what it took to be great... and was motivated to learn, just needed a little help.  At first I felt a little sad... but then I realized that I was the only really holding me back.  I didn't need to have an excuse to mentor someone.  I could just do it!  If she really has all the potential I see in her, shouldn't take her long to work her way up to remarkable, right?  Then I can help her to get an awesome job and surround her with talent and then she'll really become amazing!

We met at a coffee shop on Monday.  Talked about software process and design... wrote some unit tests together and now she's doing some reading before we get together again.  Pragmatic Programmer.  A good top-of-the-list first book, I think.  Later that day I got a thank you note from a friend of hers... it was really touching.  Made my whole day. :)

It's the kind of help that really makes a difference and touches someone's life...  in an unexpected remarkable kind of way.  And thinking, learning, designing, questioning are not just things everyone picks up in their software travels... I find lots of people with lots of years of the wrong experience.

If we really want to advance knowledge and grow, we really need to help each other to do it.
What if we all gave just a little bit of our time to help someone out?