6 Ways a Mentor Can Accelerate Your Coding Career

This guest blog is written by Designli

Learning to code is a lot of fun, but it can also be fraught with stress and confusion. Having the assistance of an experienced mentor to help you navigate your journey is invaluable. Mentors can provide a means of achieving your career goals.

Here are six ways in which a mentor can help you accelerate your career in technology.

1. Help in Avoiding Pitfalls

Mentors can provide valuable advice on ways to avoid common pitfalls. After all, your mentor was once a pupil, and there is a good chance that they have encountered some of the same issues that could hinder your progression. A mentor may be able to foresee problem areas and prevent you from making the same mistakes they made. When you are working with a mentor, not only will they be able to answer questions, but they will also be able to help further by showing you how to implement any changes that are needed.

2.  Motivation

Let’s be honest, a lack of motivation is something that plagues all of us from time to time. A mentor can provide the motivation you need to get back in front of the editor. Some mentors may put together study materials and test projects, to ensure that you are continuing to progress.

3. Customised Learning

One of the disadvantages of learning in a coding classroom setting is the lack of individual attention. When working with a mentor, you can discuss both your short-term and long-term goals, and together create a customised plan for achieving success. This can really help you identify and focus on the areas that will aid you in the future.
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4. Help with the Unknown

Coding languages can be mysterious, and at times, downright confusing. Even if you have only been coding for a short time, you have probably encountered issues that seem to have no cause. When you are unaware of the origin of the problem, you may be left wondering where to begin solving it. A mentor can help demystify unknown errors and explain them in a way that is easy to understand.

5. Career Advice and Connections

The best career advice comes from someone who is currently working in the field, and coding mentors are no exception. If you are looking for advice as to which career path is right for you, and more specifically, which languages and software you should focus on learning to achieve your goals, there is no one better to ask than your mentor. Not only can they offer career advice, but there is a chance that they will have connections in the industry that could help you land a job.

6. Real-World Experience

While studying can prepare you for many situations you may face in the real-world, there are times when unique obstacles arise that do not have a concrete solution. Coding mentors can provide you with real-world examples of challenges that you may be forced to overcome, so you will be confident in a similar situation.

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These were just a few reasons to consider using a mentor to help further your tech career.   If you are interesting in being mentored (whether you’re have a technical or non-technical background), read more on DevelopHer’s speed mentoring events.
You can also sign up to our mailing list to be the first to hear about future speed mentoring events during the year.

Stop, Collaborate and Listen

There’s been a lot going on behind the scenes at DevelopHer over the past few weeks. We are building a new website, planning our launch party, autumn events, and continuing to build on our partnerships with some awesome UK and European initiatives.

We are committed to elevating women in technology and to pursue our mission of supporting women in professional, personal and political opportunities we’d like to expand our network. As firm fans of collaboration within the community we’ve grown great relationships with a number of organisations including Geek Girl Meetup, Blooming Founders, and Women Who Code and want to continue to seek out and partner with other organisations with similar values.

If you know of any other groups, initiatives or organisations you think we should get to know or events we should share, please put us in touch via developHer.org@gmail.com .

One of our newest partnerships is with SyncDevelopHER, an East Anglian initiative committed to promoting gender equality in technology. The awesome organisation is behind the DevelopHER Awards; showcasing the East Anglian technology industry’s leading female talent. The next Awards are in Ipswich on 30th November 2016 and tickets are available now . We’re excited to be working together with them and hope to partner on bringing their East Anglian based event to London in the near future.

Coming up we invite you to join us on 20th September at the prestigious Royal Geographical Society as we collaborate with WOW Talks bringing our mentoring experience to  WOW Talks:Women In Tech. Please use code developherwow2016 for £10 off.

As ever, to stay in the know for all things DevelopHer including our launch party please keep an eye on twitter and subscribe to our mailing list HERE.

Team DevelopHer

In conversation with: Yolina Sotirova

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photo credit: Thomas Hawk via photopin cc

 

Every month, we catch up with London’s top girls in tech. This week we chatted with Yolina Sotirova, a Graduate Consultant at ThoughtWorks.

Q:What is it like to be a woman who’s in a technical world?

A: It is not as scary as it sounds. As long as you get over the fact that you will have to work with know-it-all men every day, it is just great! I find it very empowering and inspiring, being part of the industry that drives the change and innovation in the world nowadays. There is no better feeling than seeing the product you have spent weeks and months of work, being used and appreciated by others who are in need.

Q: What is one piece of advice you’d offer women who want to work in tech?

A: The tech world is big and exciting, but not as scary as it seems. There is a right place for everyone, you just need to take a leap and find it. The only things you need to have are passion and love for tech, and determination. Then, you are as good as everyone else out there. And frequently even better than a lot of people.

Q: Can you share one awesome and one not-so-great experience you’ve had concerning the stigma of women in tech?

A: Awesome:
My first project in TW involved a functional programming language called Clojure. I got really into it and I started attending various user groups and trainings related to it. Last month I attended my first EuroClojure conference. There were 2 female speakers in the programme, both were so awesome! They were so geeky, techie and very confident, they inspired me and motivated me to be like them one day, to get up on the stage and give a talk about the new programming language I put together myself. Furthermore, the whole community is great. The ratio of men to women is way too small, but this does not make it an unsafe and stressful environment at all, even the opposite – people are friendly and willing to talk to you, share with you and learn from you.

Not-so-great:
I have been in multiple situations, where in a group during a technical discussion, I have been ignored in various ways from the conversation. Some people just tend to assume by default that if you are a woman, you don’t know enough to bring value to the discussion. Well, as a result, I just had to start learning to be more aggressive and make my word heard during discussions.

Q: What can be done to prompt more women to choose a career in tech?

A: I believe that to lead by example is the best way to go. More opportunities, where school and university girls could meet successful women in IT, would be very inspiring and motivating for them. I think part of the reason girls get scared away from an IT career is because they don’t actually get to meet women that are already in the field. A majority of university computer science professors are male. Mentoring programs for school girls – being able to meet, work and be taught about programming and technology by women already in IT, could help them gain more confidence that being a female technologist is something achievable. Girls need to have role models from a very early age. They need to see how cool and fun it is to be a geek.

Q: What, in your opinion, are the next big trends in tech business?

A: Functional programming languages and big data analytics – two very cool things that are rising up and will find their place on the tech scene in the foreseeable future.

Q: Tell us a little about ThoughtWorks and its commitment to creating a socially and economically just world.

A: ThoughtWorks is an amazing place to work at – a safe and nurturing environment, where people are bright and energetic, filled with positivity and drive for change. TW empowers you to be brave, to think out of the box and try to influence the world in your way. For example, in the summer they had organized a TW EU Dragons Den where we were pitching ideas for different projects (related to innovative technologies, delivering more business value to the company, contributing to the community). The prize was the support with time, funds and resources from TW to turn those ideas into reality.

ThoughtWorkers are encouraged to get involved in all kinds of open source projects, fundraising initiatives, volunteering work and much more. We try to find ways to influence the world in a positive way through technology. We are involved in various projects in healthcare, education, global development and activism, where we try to give our contribution for a better society. A great example is the contributions that many ThoughtWorkers have done, as part of the initial project or in their free time, to develop RapidFTR – a mobile app to help field workers reunite children with their families after big disasters. One of the main reasons behind TW having offices in countries like Uganda, South Africa, Brasil and Ecuador is to try and bring less privileged people into the world of technology, giving them a chance to develop their capabilities, regardless of their background or education.

Q: Why did you choose a career with ThoughtWorks?

A: I have been doing maths and programming since I was 10 years old, so when the time came for me to decide what I want to do for living, it kind of came out naturally to me. IT is just part of my life, I love it and I enjoy it immensely. I have been with TW as a grad for 10 months now.

Thoughtworks is a global technology company whose mission is to better humanity through software and help drive the creation of a socially and economically just world. You can catch Yolina and ThoughtWorks CTO, Rebecca Parsons, at their event tomorrow (November 20) – Let’s Talk About Women in Technology.

What do you know about Ladies Who Code?

It was such a pleasure to chat with Angie Maguire, co-founder of Ladies Who Code – an organisation that plans monthly meetups to bring the brightest female minds together to discuss tech, share ideas and innovate.

Ladies Who Code was founded in NYC in May 2011 by Angie and Shoshi Roberts. The two ladies used their strengths to team up: Shoshi the main inspiration/developer and Angie the event-planning and organisational mind behind it. To date the network has totalled 1500 women developers!

There are three main aspects behind what Ladies Who Code is about: visibility, retention, and most importantly community. Angie said “the whole point of Ladies Who Code is that one day it won’t exist” because hopefully one day being a woman developer in tech won’t be something people think twice about.

The movement has quickly spread to the UK and today has 3 chapters this side of the pond: Manchester, Birmingham, and London. This year marks the second annual conference and the first here in Europe, held this weekend on October 26th. It’ll feature a number of amazing speakers, and men are encouraged to join as well! It’s nearly sold out, so grab your tickets now.

The end of the conference will feature the launch of the speakers programme, which is meant to train women developers to have the confidence to speak in front of others and to provide scholarships for women to attend conferences.

Luckily if you can’t make it out this year, the conference talks will be hosted on the Ladies Who Code Youtube channel. Follow them on Twitter at @ladieswhocode for updates on that.

This movement is looking to spread, so consider if you’d want to lead a Ladies Who Code meetup in your city!