Meet Meha Jain, a software engineer at Now Buildings and a mentor for Springboard’s Software Engineering Career Track.
Meha Jain loves having the opportunity to mentor Springboard students from a range of backgrounds—from former choreographers to school teachers to healthcare professionals—and helping non-technical people transition into the tech industry. She is part of the Mentor Advisory Board at Springboard: a panel of top Springboard mentors who meet monthly to brainstorm solutions to improve the student experience.
“There is no one-size-fits-all approach to mentoring,” says Jain, who earned a master’s degree in computer science from Uttar Pradesh Technical University in India. “Overall, I try to be the mentor I wish I’d had.”
Jain has over 10 years of experience as a developer, specializing in application development for Windows and Android software programs. Now, she is a product developer at Now Buildings, a company based in Melbourne, Australia, that specializes in wholesale industrial sheds. Jain is currently working on building a 3D product configurator that would automate the entire process of customizing and ordering a shed by enabling customers to create their own CAD renderings rather than relying on a drafter.
Tell me about your role at Now Buildings. What do you do there?
I’m a product lead at NowBuildings, a shed company based in Melbourne, Australia. The company is a leader in its own field because it employs custom engineering to build large sheds. Within the shed industry, precision and reliability are key. I’m currently working on a product configurator that will enable customers to create their own 3D renderings for an industrial or farm shed. We have a drafter who does the renderings and it takes them several days to get the job done. But I’m creating an application where you can provide inputs and generate a 3D model from AutoCAD. So it’s complete automation.
What is something unexpected that you look for when hiring a software engineer?
Something I always consider is learnability—how adaptive you are to changes and how comfortable you are learning new things—because you can’t possibly know everything. Another thing is owning your work. I have seen a lot of junior developers who will work on a task they were assigned without thinking about its broader implications.
What is an undervalued technical skill that you look for?
Unit testing is an important skill to have. Let’s say you are baking a cake. The recipe requires several ingredients such as milk, curd, flour, baking powder, and baking soda. You need to check each individual unit to make sure it’s in good shape and in the right quantity. The milk should not be spoiled. The flour should be in the right amount. That’s how you’re going to get a complete baked cake. What that means is every module should be properly unit tested, and you should be testing your own code as you go along.
What do you like the most about being a mentor at Springboard?
Mentorship is about having a brain to pick, a listening ear, and a push in the right direction.
This is the approach I take with my mentees. I lend an ear to thoroughly understand what my mentees’ current situation is, what they want to achieve in their career, and also their personal life. Then I try to share my knowledge according to my mentee’s aspirations. I also share strategies to help them achieve their goals.
Have you had any mentors that inspired you?
Yes. I had two mentors at my first job. One of the mentors suggested I learn one new topic every day because after 30 days you will know 30 new things. And after a year you will know 365 new things which you would never have imagined. Another piece of advice was to always try new things and ask questions. There is no such thing as a stupid question.
How has being a mentor boosted your own career development?
It provides me with an opportunity to give back to society. I love that my mentees come from different backgrounds and are passionate about learning. I’ve seen choreographers and artists transition into software engineering. Their commitment towards their new career really inspires me.
What advice do you have for aspiring software engineers who come from a non-technical background?
Find your motivation. People have different reasons for pursuing a career in coding. Some people want to transition into a white-collar job, others like having a handsome salary.
Another thing is to start with small goals because having a goal that is too big can demotivate you. Programming is all about persistence, so you should be consistent in what you are doing and practice things over and over again. Even if you fail, you can always look over the learning material again, rewatch the videos, and have a discussion with your mentor.
Get To Know Other Software Engineering Students
What do you remember about your first job in software engineering and how much has changed since then?
In my first job, we had to give a presentation every month. I spent the whole month preparing for my first presentation because I was really scared. I learned from that experience that you can’t just cram the information into your head and regurgitate it; you have to be spontaneous. A lot of developers branch out into QA testing, project management, or business analysis, but even after 12 years, I’m still coding, and that’s what I love about my job.
Software developers have the option of going into a technical track or a managerial track as they advance in their careers, or remaining an individual contributor. Where do you see yourself in the future?
I like working in teams. Currently, I’m a product developer at NowBuildings and I’m leading a team. Looking forward, I would like to be a development manager overseeing an even bigger team. However, I love coding. I still like to code whenever I get a chance.
What advice do you have for Springboard students who are trying to envision what their career will look like five years down the road?
It depends on your interests. Even though software engineering has evolved a lot in the past few years, you should stick to your goals.
What advice do you have for someone who’s considering becoming a Springboard mentor?
I think Springboard has been a great launching pad for helping people shift gears in their career journey and build fulfilling careers. I want to thank Springboard for giving me the opportunity to give back to society. I think it’s really wonderful.
Since you’re here…
No one wakes up knowing how to code – they learn how to code. Tens of thousands of students have successfully learned with our courses, like our Software Engineering Bootcamp. If you’re a total newbie, our Software Engineering Career Track Prep Course will be a perfect fit. Let’s do this!