I need a mentor

I sat on this topic for a while because I've had this feeling, but I haven't had the words to describe it.  At this moment in my career I'm in need.  My need feels kind of odd to say, as it isn't money or happiness.  My need is for professional mentorship.  More specifically, I need a mentor in the field of software development. 

As a developer in his mid twenties, I've far from peaked.  Right now I'm just starting to get a sense of the bigger picture.  I'm a sponge and I'm ready to soak up any kind of information and experience I can.  I WANT to learn.  I NEED to make myself better.  This is a difficult mental state to output in words. 

My main problem is that I'm missing that person in my career who has been there and done that.  He or she has the t-shirt and has forgotten more nuggets of knowledge than I'll ever learn.  Right now I feel like I'm fumbling through problems that might be avoided if the architecture was a certain way or the environment was set up different.  I feel like I'm wasting time learning things via the school of hard knocks that are already common knowledge to some.  I want to break ground not reinvent the wheel.

I'm compensating for this through other sources, but it feels like it's far from ideal.  I'm making use of a few e-mentors though blogs and podcasts.  I owe a debt of gratitude to Scott Hanselman, Jeff Atwood, and Oren Eini for their continued public outreach.  These 3 blogs and Scott's podcast have really aided me in my quest for development knowledge.  I've also started reading through Code Complete by Steve McConnell which is a goldmine.  If you are a developer and don't own this book then you need to go buy it now.

Still, I need more.  If you, dear reader, have any book, blog, or podcast recommendations, then please share them.  I would love to see what motivates and inspires you.

  • http://gtitsworth.blogspot.com George

    I agree… In my situation, I am in a CMMI Level 5, ISO 9001, Six Sigma organization that spits out quality software in ADA. The project is so old and so big that I don’t get any benefit out of the software engineering process, at least not in a truly interactive manner. Our process handbook is a software engineering book in its own and no where near as entertaining as the one’s they gave us in college.

    In my own little group of workers, we develop about 30 different tools, some small, some large, but all are for internal use and have never been put through a full software engineering process. They all seem to be glorified shell scripts and Excel Macros that have been glued together to “get the job done”. Try being a fresh faced young developer/eager software engineer try to come in and maintain all of these tools. I think from some of your earlier posts, you are in the same boat.

    In my situation, there is probably only one or two people that think in the Software Engineering mindset that are accessible to me, but none of us have enough time to sit down and design, develop, and test the little applications we use. Always quick coding. I wonder how many other people have this same problem. I think the only way to truly get this type of experience and mentor ship is to work for a true software company, in which your sole purpose is to write software. This is unlike the majority of most non-software focused technical jobs in which the focus seems to be more on getting the job done as quick as possible.

    Wow, that was a rant. Anyways, thanks for the blog/book/podcast links. I have a few that might help:

    Coder to Developer – Tools and Strategies for Delivering Your Software – I liked everything about this book except the fact that it C#/.NET oriented. I think he breaks down the challenges of breaking the “coding” mindset very well, but since I could care less about .NET, I was lost on the examples.

    As for podcasts, I like the Java Posse podcast. It is really just a Java News podcast, but all of the hosts work at Google or Apple and the like and often throw in good little tidbits about what has and hasn’t worked for them in their development projects. But if you don’t use Java, this will not help out any. The same comments for PHP Abstract, just substitute PHP for Java.

    I have not found any good general software development podcasts yet, but I will definitely check out the one you talked about.

  • Probashi

    There is no silver bullet – learning is hard work. I felt the same way you whished for a mentor. I am in my mid 30s do this junk since 1989. I wish I had a time machine and then I could travel back to my early days and be wonderful mentor for my self for that time (a self recursive mentoring). That way I could have learned much faster.

    I listen to Scott Hanselman, this gives you some direction to go but does not provide the vehicle for it (i.e you have to learn yourself). I am also listening SE Radio nowadays.

    For the books: (my obsession)
    GoF Design Pattern Book (it is sitting in my desk for last 4 years, still a lot to go)
    [Full many a flower is born to blush unseen]

  • http://followtheshadow.wordpress.com Jesintha

    I too want to learn a lot about java programming.
    Thanks for your post.
    I think you can be a mentor for some who are just starting like me .

  • Walt

    Hi Josh, ditto on the mentor thing, I would love to have someone who could whip me into shape. I feel as if it could save me years of frustration. In addition to the great blogs you mentioned, I also like Rick Strahl’s web log and articles.
    Thanks for the jQuery mask tool, just what I was looking for.

  • René

    Greetings! Nice plugin! Is it possible to do some pattern based masks?

    Like only digits, independent of count of digits.

    For using with prices :
    $ 69,00
    $ 169,00

    Now, i have to use some preformatted like :
    $ ___,__

  • http://www.iso9001documents.blogspot.com ISO 9001

    Great site! Nice to see others sharing these ideas

  • JayGregg

    While reading through your post, I got the feeling that I was writing it myself! I too am reading through Code Complete (2nd ed.) and feel stuck in an IT shop where (like the first commenter) everyone is too busy to apply software engineering concepts, but the focus is often just “get the job done”. I can’t help that feel that this mentality is the reason why it’s so hard for someone like me to catch on. It’s because this mentality leads to over-complexity.

    I can’t help but wonder, however, since this was written in 2007. Did you ever find that mentor?

  • http://lorenzoang.blogspot.com/ lorenzo

    dude i also need a mentor but i can not find 1

  • http://facebook Rodolfo Alanis

    Hello I am in need of a mentor who has had experiance in the field of software engineering for my senor project, can anyone help me? please?