One area where I believe we can improve as software developers is around mentoring. We have good resources for finding information, like stackoverflow, sites to follow video courses like Pluralsight and training at places like Skills Matter, but as far as actual developers mentoring each other there isn’t much available. Mostly it’s luck of the draw, you might end up working somewhere or on a project where someone will mentor you, but more often than not improving your development skills is a solitary journey.
I think in part the flat development team structures of today don’t help this, in the past there were clear Junior, Mid and Senior roles, as well as Principal or Lead developers, where often now everyone is simply a Developer. I actually much prefer this flat structure, and it fits well with agile but I do think something has been lost in the process. It’s difficult to find a mentor and even if you do there is nothing official in place, it’s unlike other professions and I believe this is one of the reasons developers are often viewed as a bit cowboy and devil may care.
The reason for this blog post is I noticed a site today, CodeMentor, which allows you to hire a mentor to help you out with work, or to resolve specific issues. I don’t believe this solves the problem I’ve described, but it’s interesting nonetheless, and I’m sure teams out there could and would benefit from being able to access the ‘top 2%’.
I’d quite like a developer Padawan myself at some point, although I don’t feel I’m a position yet to pass on any particular wisdom. For the moment I’ll look at trying to improve this blog and plan more talks which will hopefully help people as I do think a key part of being a professional is being able to pay something back to the community.