/ mentoring

Mentoring Intermediate Frontend Developers at TalentQL

Meeting the cohort

I was approached by the TalentQL team to mentor intermediate Frontend developer and support them in their transition to become independent senior developers who had a good grasp of system thinking and design. The goal of the mentorship program is to make these engineers globally competitive. I would admit, when I got the request to mentor a frontend team,
I was apprehensive at first. Apprehensive because my professional goal for the next few months was to deep dive into multi-cloud architecture of resilient systems - which one would agree is quite a distance from frontend development, but after having the intro session, I believe I would be able to guide the mentees through a lot of concepts. The top three on my mind are:

  • How to learn new concepts quickly - riding on the shoulders of giants
  • How to design systems with patterns
  • How to deal with the imposter syndrome - The feeling of not being good enough.

Creating a personal plan around the individual's skills

To start the program, my first approach would be to walk them through a new application, one with design, frontends, APIs and infrastructure components. A 10, 000ft view if you must of a solution. I would then task each of the mentees with classifying their knowledge of the concepts we walk through into three buckets

  1. Perfected - These are concepts they could implement with limited online searches
  2. Half-assed - These are concepts that they know about but do not know what a good implementation looks like. Either that or they have not had a good implementation in the past
  3. No knowledge - These are concepts the mentee has limited exposure to.

Executing the plan

Once these concepts have been identified, our focus would be perfecting the half-assed concepts one at a time. I learnt about this framework of learning from a YouTube talk I listened to in 2015 - Making Badass Developers. The talk theorized that brain resources are wasted when the individual piles up half-assed skills and that increasing skill means refining improperly learnt skill up till the point where they become second nature.

Over the coming six months, we would take one skill over a one to two week period. These skills could either be learnt using blogs, online resources like educative.io or it could also be learnt from working with peers. The skill then has to be applied to the individual project, the group project or both of them.

The learning approach would be to create high volumes of high quality examples over a short period of time, so the engineers can truly pick up the patterns that make for beautiful engineering. Super excited to see how this plays out.

Conclusion

My hope is that this sets us on the right track towards an individual plan. In six months, these engineers become truly able to drive a Frontend project from conception to delivery when working alone or in an agile team.

This experience is not just to help the developers on their journey towards mastery, it is also for me - the opportunity to walk through a path almost perpendicular to my current knowledge path. My goal is to master the art of letting go of technical topics - providing strategic direction, while relying trusting the individual to convert direction into tactical actions. So I could say it is a win/win on both fronts