Kelvin O Omereshone

Developer. Teacher. Speaker.

← Back to blog

Mentor not required

I recently released this YouTube video titled You don’t NEED a Mentor and the entire idea for that video is to share how I think about the whole misconception that a mentor is required as you start your tech journey - TLDR: You don’t require one

First of all, let’s talk about what a mentor is 👇🏾

A mentor is an experienced and trusted adviser.

In my opinion, getting a mentor early on in your tech journey may be counter productive as you are currently figuring things out and don’t know enough to even gauge the experienced and trusted advise that said mentors will be providing you.

What I have noticed is that newbies don’t want to embrace the figuring things out phase of their journey - in all honesty you will be figuring things out for as long as you do software enginnering so you may as well just get used to it.

So you may be thinking, “Kelvin, if I don’t need a mentor as I’m getting started in tech, what do I need?”

You need role models

Role models to me are people that are producing the results you want in your life. So if you want to produce results as a frontend web developer, then get role models - people who are working and producing results you aspire to produce as a frontend web developer.

I’ve had a long list of role models for every part of my life. For example Sarah Drasner is my role model on writing quality understandable technical articles. Also Taylor Otwell, DHH, Jason Fried, Caleb Porzio, Mike McNeil, Prosper Otemuyiwa, etc have all inspired me and produced results I can look at in my software engineering journey.

These people have produce results I like and want to replicate so I study them and look for the processes they’ve used and I adopt them and gauge the results I then produce.

Do note that this is not copying them completely. For example Taylor Otwell works with PHP and built Laravel, but I’m working with JavaScript and also maintaining Sails.

For this approach to work, you need to have the mindset of taking total and complete responsibility for your life. What this means is that you know and believe that it is up to you to take the ruthless action needed to produce the results you want in your life and career.

I’ve have been using this approach all my life and it has been tremendously empowering. I study these role models religiously, picking what I need, applying them via actions and gauging the results.

You need good peers

As you are learning you need to have people that want similar goals as you do. These folks act as sounding boards and also external motivations when you need that extra push.

For example, I have peers that are open source maintainers of projects of their own, peers that are superb technical writers, peers that are YouTube creators, peers that are great software engineers, peers that are building their own businesses, etc.

We can have productive conversations because we have overlapping interests and we are working in line with our goals so we can be valuable to one another.

You need a healthy community

Having an environment that let you aim to be your best is really essential as you are getting started in your tech journey.

It’s one of the reasons I opened the doors to The Sailscasts Community to everyone learning JavaScript.

You need a place to see your peers working on getting better, producing results they want, and, sharing those to inspire you.

How I think about mentorship

To me, a mentor is someone that has the experience in line with the path I am taking. Ideally we work together in one capacity or the other and I am useful to them as they are to me.

These mentors offer invaluable guidance and advice, which I can personally relate to and appreciate.

As someone who has already made significant progress and achieved tangible results in the same field, I can effectively assess and gauge the value of the guidance they provide.

Their expertise aligns with my own experiences, allowing me to confidently apply their advice to further excel in the area they are mentoring me on.

A senior co-worker can be the perfect fit for this mentoring role.

You may also find a mentor in an experience collaborator or maintainer of an open source project.

Their expertise and knowledge can guide you in navigating the complexities of the project, improving your skills, and gaining valuable insights from their wealth of experience.

With their mentorship, you can accelerate your growth and contribute meaningfully to the open-source community or the project you are working on for the company you both work for.

Let’s be honest, having a mentor who shares your interests and works alongside you makes the whole mentoring process a lot easier. It’s like finding a fellow traveler on the road to pursuing your passions.

You can both stay true to your paths while supporting and learning from each other, creating a friendly and fruitful collaboration.

By the way I wrote an article back in 2018 on The Alchemy of Mentorship, might be worth a read.