Junior developers have the potential to add incredible value to your business: they bring fresh perspective, boundless energy, and an infectious desire to learn and grow. Of course, this potential can come with downsides: limited experience with technology, less attention to detail, more risk tolerance, and an undeveloped understanding of best practices to name a few. It is always possible to learn these skills on-the-job, but it takes years, dozens of painful mistakes, and can be discouraging for both the developer and the business.
The best way to accelerate this progress is through supervision and mentorship.
From a technical perspective, mentorship can speed up the learning process, emphasize the use of best practices, provide understanding of risk tradeoffs, and increase a developer's attention to detail.
Mentorship also gives developers a sense of place, and it engenders a feeling that their company cares about their development. In light of the many potential benefits for junior developers to change jobs: more money, new challenges, and the promise of career growth, Mentorship is among the best ways to change this conversation. Even a modest investment in your junior staff shows that you repect and value them, and gives them a good reason to stay onboard. I have witnessed first hand the massive difference that such investment can make. Show your support, provide opportunities, and watch as your new hires grow into mature, well rounded employees who naturally evangelise for you.
If you're reading this, than I you likely understand that the upsides of investing in junior developers can be incredible. In an ideal world, you would allocate a percentage of your senior development staff's time to these mentorship tasks, but for many teams, delivering the features that your company's success depends upon must take prescedence. If this is you, in just a few hours a week, I can help
Weather you are developing an internship program, or simply want to provide extra support for a single junior, I can help you.
Over my career, I've worked with startup organizations of all sizes, during all phases of their growth. I have first hand witnessed the difficulties that splitting the attention of your technology team can cause, but have also seen the enormous benefits that investing in junior staff can provide over time. Through years of consulting engagements, I have learned to quickly orient myself in unfamiliar code bases, and to communicate and work effectively with both technical and non-technical audiences. In addition to my technical expertise, I have taught and mentored hundreds of junior developers, and I have a real understanding of how to build a sense of community, to motivate, to encourage, and to teach juniors of a variety of skill levels.
If you would like to add a few weekly hours of results-oriented dedicated mentorship time, technical oversight, or simply code review for your interns or junior developers, I'm available for consulting engagements.
I've been incredibly lucky to work with Ian as my mentor for the past 2 years. I've learned so many things from him it would be very difficult to enumerate. His focus on pragmatism has been both enlightening and empowering. We focused not just on learning how to write elegant, human-readable code, but also on the tools of the trade: from Python virtual environments to making effective pull requests.
I also think that "the proof is in the pudding" in this situation. Since I found a job as a software engineer, I've been routinely complemented on my coding style and the practices I follow: I'm confident in saying that a great deal of the good habits I've developed have been thanks to Ian.
— Willow Powell
I was a student of Ian's in 2020 right when Covid-19 was kicking off and the lockdown was starting. I had decided to take the time to make the career jump from automotive technician to software development. So I enrolled at AppAcademy. AppAcademy was transitioning its program to support an all online curriculum. You can imagine the difficulties here, folks were just getting used to lockdown and cohorts were composed of lots of people (myself included) who really hadn't spent much time in zoom. Not to mention the social climate and political upheaval of 2020.
As the leader/mentor/educator of one of the first all-online cohorts, Ian provided what only the best educators and leaders can, attention, and respect. I think I can speak for everyone in our cohort in saying that Ian cared about his students and treated us with the respect of a peer, despite many of us being absolute newcomers to tech and from disparate social demographics and cultures. The culture that Ian fostered in our cohort made it the place to be, and many of his students carry on to this day as close peers. I honestly can't think of a better person to have helped get me through 2020. Now that I'm in tech I still catch myself thinking "What would Ian say?".
The attention, emotional intelligence, and compassion that Ian brings to his role as a leader and mentor are invaluable (not to mention his ability to simplify difficult technical concepts, and willingness to dig to their roots). I cannot recommend Ian enough, truly one of the greatest teachers I've ever had.
— Warren Gifford
Ian's lectures and guidance were always a gold-ticket item that you were guaranteed to walk away from with a deeper understanding of the topic. I had the fortune of being one of his students while at App Academy, and always coveted any teaching I could get from him. There was seemingly nothing he could not break down and explain in a comprehensible way, from advanced concepts at the high-level to the smallest detail, in a tailored way to provide the most understanding for his students.
Beyond his vast knowledge, he has great enthusiasm and dedication to providing the best possible experience and understanding. He made it a point to actively engage his students and was flexible in his approach to each lesson, and in doing so you could glean some of his experience and knowledge. You can tell that Ian has been in your shoes and knows what it takes to learn.
In short, Ian is an amazing instructor and one that I will continue to look up to and go to for guidance whenever possible. His dedication, knowledge, and enthusiasm are just some of the qualities that made me look forward to learning from Ian, one of the greats!
— Nicholas Richard
Ian is probably the brightest person I know. Really. I had the pleasure of working with Ian as one of his teaching assistants in App Academy. As impressive as it is to see Ian solve a difficult Leetcode problem in just a few minutes, the thing that I admire the most about Ian is that he deeply cares about his team and students.
He takes the role of leader/mentor seriously. He scheduled weekly check-ins with me to discuss my career and to offer advice. He challenged me with difficult projects but made sure to carefully review them and provide feedback. He was always willing to have difficult conversations and to be the one to make difficult decisions. And even though it was clear that he was the smartest person in the room, whenever someone made a technical inaccuracy, he corrected it with empathy and grace. Oh and he plays the guitar and synthesizer, how cool is that!?
— Javier Ortiz
Ian was my instructor and technical mentor as I prepared for a career as a Software Engineer. Ian is well spoken and consistently exhibited his ability to break down complex concepts of programming, into digestible bits of information. His patience, teaching style, and ability to keep a cohort of students motivated through some challenging days was exceptional. Professional setting aside, Ian is simply a good person that truly cares about others, and it’s visible to anyone that comes into contact with him. Having spent a good majority of my years in an educational institution, with the utmost confidence, I recommend Ian for any opportunities that involve teaching, mentorship, and leading others in some capacity. With his level of technical acumen, experience, and personality, those roles are a natural fit.
— Aaron Carpenter
Ian's ability to communicate, mentor and inspire makes him the perfect candidate for any position he aspires for. He was my instructor at App Academy and continued to mentor me afterward and fully prepare me for the Junior Software Developer role at Novetta/AFS. I never would have dreamed of working for this company or being prepared for this position but Ian had a remarkable impact on getting me here and my life is forever changed by it. From general concepts of development and code to a variety of skills used in today's industry Ian has taught me so much! I cannot thank him enough.
— Shannon Briggs
I feel very fortunate to have had Ian as an instructor and mentor during my time at App Academy, and after graduation. I know I would not be in the position I am in today had it not been for Ian's ability to teach even the hardest concepts of software engineering. Not only did he teach the technical aspects, his ability to train the mind on how to approach a problem is priceless in this field.
From an employment prospective, I would interview any student of Ian's.
— Austin Burger
Ian was one of the first instructors I had the pleasure to work with when I joined the instructional team at App Academy. He was wonderful to work with as a brand new instructor and very green programmer. Always patient, always willing to help, and always able to provide amazing insight into the topics, bugs, and questions that regularly arose. I learned a lot about being an effective instructor and mentor from Ian.
The day App Academy lost Ian as an instructor was one of its lowest. The day Ian starts at any new organization will be one of their best.
— Alec Keeler