How to be a good software engineer mentor

  • As a mid-level or senior developer helping a junior developer grow, show them things they can only get from experience, not just coding.
  • Explain business-side decision making. Have your junior sit in on meetings with clients or production managers (or explain later), so they have context and understand where their tasks come from.
  • Do a demo and discuss the business logic of the project they are working on, so they can see the user perspective and know why certain decisions were made.
  • Cover best practices in code reviews: discuss better solutions if they have poorly written code even if it works. Decode jargon, especially for core concepts, and explain the team’s code decisions so they can see how applications grow.
  • Hear them out before you tell them the ‘right’ way. Resist rushing them towards the end of a sprint and let them learn to think fast and critically and to commit to decisions. Listen and then explain why (if) you need to make a different choice.
  • Talk them through your thought process while coding, then reverse roles: hearing them think lets you notice when they aren’t using a concept correctly and makes them more aware of their own process.

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