It’s likely that throughout your career you’ve been paired up with a mentor. Mentors offer their professional experience to guide how a new employee may develop in their role. Their main strength is helping the employee navigate their own career and the organization, which is crucial for someone new to the company.
In addition to helping new employees get up-to-speed on the ins and outs of the company, developer mentors often participate in pair programming or code reviews. This allows the new hire to start checking in code as early into their new job as possible and ask important questions along the way. Additionally, the developer’s mentor can help them create (and eventually hit) their career goals.
Before you start thinking about finding the right mentorship program for developers, it's important to understand what the most common options are right now.
Not every one of these developer mentoring ideas will work for your team, so explore the different options and ask for feedback to find one that works. Also, be open to changing your plans along the way to give your developers the types of programs they need.
It’s extremely important that the mentor and the developer are a good fit. At Stack Overflow, we try to choose a more senior developer who has a good perspective on the history of the projects and general practices of the team. We think of this mentor as the go-to person for any new hire. They should answer technical questions, introduce them to the team, and even walk them through some code or pair programming.
In an interview with Fog Creek, Rachel Ober, Senior Developer at Paperless Post, advises against having an employee’s mentor be their manager, and prefers for an independent party to take on the role. She says, “They’re not necessarily involved in the review process of you and your team, but they’re there to help focus on your happiness and the growth of your career.”