Industry Guides

Starter Guide Series - Mentoring Plan and Expectations for Junior Software Developers

As a junior software developer, you are starting out on an exciting journey in a rapidly changing and constantly evolving field. Having a mentor can be really be instrumental in helping you navigate this journey and succeed in your career. A mentor is someone who can provide guidance, support, and feedback to help you grow and develop your skills as a software developer. In every company you will be assigned a more senior developer to be your mentor and there will be some sort of a mentoring plan in place.

Importance of a Mentoring Plan

A mentoring plan is an essential component of a junior software developer's career development. A mentoring plan should outline specific goals, objectives, and milestones that will guide the junior developer's growth and development. The plan should also establish a framework for regular meetings and check-ins with the mentor to ensure that the junior developer is receiving the guidance and support they need.

A mentoring plan can also help junior developers build a sense of community and connection with their colleagues. Through mentoring, junior developers can gain insights into the company's culture and values, learn about best practices and industry standards, and build relationships with more experienced developers.

Expectations for Junior Developers

As a junior software developer, it is important to have clear expectations when working with a mentor. Here are some expectations that you should have as a junior software developer:

  1. Open Communication: A mentor is there to provide guidance and support. As a junior developer, you should be open and honest about your goals, concerns, and challenges. You should be willing to share your progress and ask for feedback.
  2. Active Listening: It is important to actively listen to your mentor's feedback and advice. Take notes during meetings and ask clarifying questions. Be open to constructive criticism and use it to improve your skills.
  3. Commitment: Building a successful mentoring relationship requires a commitment from both parties. As a junior developer, you should be committed to attending regular meetings, setting goals, and working towards achieving those goals.
  4. Proactivity: Take an active role in your development by identifying areas where you need to improve and seeking out opportunities to learn. Be proactive in your approach to your career development.

Different types of Mentoring

Passive and active mentoring are two different approaches to mentoring in software development.

Passive Mentoring: Passive mentoring involves providing support and guidance to a mentee without actively seeking to guide their development. This might involve answering questions, providing feedback on code, or sharing resources and knowledge. In passive mentoring, the mentee takes the lead in driving their own development, while the mentor provides support and guidance as needed.

Active Mentoring: Active mentoring, on the other hand, involves taking a more proactive approach to guiding the mentee's development. This might involve setting specific goals and objectives for the mentee, identifying areas where the mentee needs to improve, and providing targeted guidance and feedback to help them achieve their goals. In active mentoring, the mentor takes a more hands-on approach to shaping the mentee's development.

Both passive and active mentoring can be effective approaches in software development, depending on the needs of the mentee and the goals of the mentor. Passive mentoring is often appropriate when the mentee is self-directed and motivated to learn, while active mentoring may be more appropriate when the mentee needs more guidance and structure to achieve their goals.

Ultimately, when junior developers are assigned a mentor, the mentoring process starts as more in the form of Active mentoring, where the more senior team member will define specific development tasks through which the junior developer learns, and these can be done through paired coding, being on a call or working together. The more time passes and the more comfortable you get as a developer the more the mentoring transitions into its passive form, where the more senior team members provide guidance and support through code reviews, answering specific questions and pointing the junior developer in the right direction.