What Are the Benefits of Learning Software Engineering With a Mentor?
In this article
If you’re a self-taught programmer, you need to invest more time and energy in identifying mistakes and solving problems on your own. Having a professional mentor by your side can ease the burden and help you become a better software engineer.
Programming is a practical field. Expertise doesn’t come from learning, but from doing. Often, that isn’t enough either. This can get much more challenging when you’re stuck.
Imagine having an expert professional, who has walked the walk before you, guiding you throughout your journey. In short, imagine having a mentor: a senior professional solving some of the toughest business challenges in the industry today, taking time out of their week regularly to get you unstuck.
The benefits of learning software engineering with a mentor are endless. Springboard knows this: we match all our software engineering students with a personal mentor. Mentors act as a guide, coach, and sounding board while you complete your course; they’re always there to help, listen, and impart valuable knowledge garnered over decades of experience.
There are many ways to learn software engineering. Here’s why learning with a mentor might just be the most valuable.
Mentors enable focused learning
There’s a wealth of information online. Some of it is legitimate; some not. In navigating this sea of information, many students studying software engineering don’t have a compass to guide them. Not everyone learns the same way—so, even with a structured curriculum or college degree, it’s easy to feel lost. Students can’t tell what success means and when to stop studying and start doing.
A personal mentor can help clear all these obstacles and more.
- Mentors help answer questions and clear confusions for a more seamless learning journey
- They can offer additional help and guidance, on top of what you’re studying already
- They help you realize when you’ve learned enough to actually start building software
- They can give you encouragement during when you’re feeling uninspired
A mentor can eliminate the fluff and distractions, and keep you focused on what you need to do to become a software engineer.
Mentors fine-tune your skills
Making a piece of code work isn’t necessarily the same as writing good quality code. For instance, Python might be one of the easier languages to learn and work with. Yet, being ‘Pythonic’ requires you to adhere to standards and follow best practices that are held in high regard among the Python programmers community.
While you’re learning on your own, you might miss out on the finer aspects of production-ready code. A mentor can fix that.
- Mentors can identify the inefficiencies in your coding process and help solve them
- They can point out minor errors and stylistic refractions
- They can guide you towards making code that works but is also bug-free and maintainable in the long-run
- They can prevent you from repeating their mistakes, allowing you to make your own
Transitioning from learning to a career in software engineering requires more knowledge than what you can find in a curriculum. A mentor will ensure you have access to this knowledge is, and will show you how to benefit from it.
Mentors will hold you accountable
It’s not easy to hold yourself accountable when you learn software engineering. However, with a mentor, you have a robust feedback loop as well as an accountability partnership that keeps you pushing forward in your journey.
- With a clearer handle on your skills, a mentor will help you prioritize the things you need to work on to improve your skills
- They will know when you’re reluctant and encourage you to take bigger risks
- They will help you evaluate your progress and recalibrate as needed
- They will tell you the truth even when it’s hard to hear
Long-term assignments are tougher than we want to believe. A mentor will help you stay on track.
Get To Know Other Software Engineering Students
Your mentor can be a source of inspiration when a problem is particularly difficult to solve and the coding process becomes a little repetitive.
- Mentors can introduce you to new developments in the field of software engineering
- They can offer insights into your field that you might not be privy to
- They can act as your sounding board while you flesh out your own problems—perhaps even point out logical inconsistencies
- They can connect you to the right resources and potential collaborators
A mentor is someone who is already in the future that you want to create for yourself. They are proof that it’s achievable and an inspiration to keep going.
Mentors can help put soft skills into focus
Careers in software engineering need a lot more than just technical skills. Interpersonal skills and culture fit are important expectations employers have from their teams. Mentors can help you understand the professional world and gain these skills too.
- When you work with a mentor and write programs in an iterative fashion, you get a clearer idea of coding in a professional setting
- Mentors can show you how to present your work, participate in retrospectives, and so on
- Mentors can help teach you about the collaborative process involved in many software engineering roles
- They can help you make inroads into the development community, learning to give back effectively
You don’t need to lose your uniqueness in this process. You can identify characteristics of your mentor you want to emulate, and thoughtfully add them to your arsenal of skills.
Mentors enable long-term professional growth
Your mentor might be the first contact in your expanding professional network. They’re an expert who is working with others like them. They are also a valuable resource whose abilities and connections.
- Mentors can help you with a meaningful referral or put you in touch with employers who might give you your first software engineering job
- They can help you practice for your first coding interview or help you make the best career choice based on your interests, skills, or personality
- They can help you see the big picture of your career, not just the immediate job that’s ahead of you
Your mentorship is a lifelong relationship that will help you progress in your career by setting the right goals, regularly upskilling, building leadership qualities, and exceeding your goals.
“I want to empower people—especially women—in developing technical capabilities that will allow them to go after better opportunities,” says Leslie Chen, a product marketing manager at Stripe and a Springboard mentor.
A mentor can mean the difference between simply learning software engineering—and becoming an excellent software engineer.
Since you’re here…
Interested in a career in software engineering? Join our mentor-led Software Engineering Bootcamp or our foundational Software Engineering Course if you’re just starting out. We help people make the switch every day (just peep our reviews). You can do it, too!