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Mentorship In & Beyond Codesmith’s Software Engineering Immersive
It’s no secret that a key to having a successful career is having a good mentor, someone who can provide encouragement, knowledge, and guidance throughout your journey. But how do you find a mentor when you want to switch careers?
MENTORSHIP FOR A CAREER PIVOT
Switching careers alone is daunting, but finding a mentor to help shape your new career is even more daunting. And for many self-taught software engineers, it is tempting to just put your head down and learn to code in your own bubble, without the need of a mentor.
However, this isn’t advised. As scary as it may be to let others watch you learn and fail, a mentor is key to explaining how to overcome coding blocks and keep you on track when it gets a little challenging. Often, they can even show technical nuances and points of optimization that you hadn’t thought of, fast tracking your growth as an engineer. These are the exact characteristics I found within the Codesmith mentorship program that I found really helped their programs shine.
MENTORSHIP DURING CODESMITH’S IMMERSIVE
Once you’re admitted into Codesmith, you’re automatically paired with a mentor that’s currently in their senior portion of the program. In the Immersive program, seniors are only 6 weeks ahead of you in their studies, making them great references for almost anything program related.
I know I’ve asked my mentor questions on everything, ranging from job search advice, to how to make a simple Fetch request. However, what I found the most beneficial part of this mentorship program was simply knowing I wasn’t alone in the process. Heading into Day 1, It was nice to know that there was someone in my corner, and that they’d hold a safe place to ask any question imaginable. Seriously: one time, I asked my mentor how feasible it was to work on a farm while job-searching post graduation and she didn’t even bat an eye.
MENTORSHIP FROM THE ACADEMIC TEAM
In addition, Codesmith’s culture does a great job in setting the tone for how mentorship will look. The program is led by three groups: the Lead Instructor, Lead Technical Mentor, and Fellows. I’ve always thought the language used here was important. Why label the second in charge a Lead Technical Mentor, rather than Associate Instructor? And why are the Fellows not Teaching Assistants? I think the latter titles would do a disservice to the dedication each of these people have to mentoring residents.
The Lead Instructor and Lead Technical Mentor make it clear from the beginning that their door is always open (or in pandemic times, their Slack DMs). My cohort-mates quickly learned the endless dedication Fellows have for us, through Help Desks and APCs that run overtime, with no complaint from the Fellows.
This is a different type of mentorship than that of what the senior residents provided. While my senior resident mentor gave me endless encouragement, it’s hard to overstate the wealth of knowledge this staff at Codesmith has provided through their mentorship.
The extra effort Fellows put into their slides always entertains me
MENTORSHIP BEYOND THE IMMERSIVE
Now, how does this translate into the “real world”? I’ve discussed the mentorship and support residents receive during their time at Codesmith, but that doesn’t matter if it disappears the moment everyone finishes the program. As it turns out, everything I’ve previously mentioned directly correlates to a culture that sustains past residency.
As the weeks have gone by, I’ve noticed that my cohort mates who realize they might be stronger in a certain unit will immediately offer their knowledge to others during off hours. I’ve stayed in contact with my senior mentor through her job search, and watched other alumni come back with advice from their success stories. Or even with code reviews—the mentorship culture has ensured that code reviews are prioritized so everyone understands the codebase.
Production Project group taking a break from code review
Personally, as an LA resident, I’ve even reached out to an NY alum for advice during the Production Project (Open Source Product) phase and have received an enthusiastic response to hop on a Zoom call with her Production Project group! All three hopped on after a long day of work and engaged with us for over an hour as we discussed everything, from testing frameworks, to their implementation of web accessibility at their current positions.
“Mentorship became a culture defined by the staff at Codesmith and carried on by the residents.”
Finding a mentor is important, and it’s easy to see that Codesmith provides that; however, after going through the Codesmith Immersive program, I’ve come to believe that providing mentorship might be just as equally important—if not, more so. So, don’t be afraid to be both the mentor and the mentee. Both titles are essential to our growth as engineers.
Blog written by Sharon Z, Codesmith LA Immersive Cohort 41.
Hear from Katty, another LA grad, about her experience finding mentorship in the Immersive in this blog post.