Vancouver Tech Community

Mentorship! How did you get it? Do you want it? What would you want out of mentorship?


Firstly, is mentorship even something that is a big need out in the community?

Because if it is, the community is the only place from where it can be had.

So let’s talk about mentorship! :yellow_heart:


I was really lucky to start my career at Brewhouse, and had really great mentors in @pcreux and @kalv. I can confidently say I wouldn’t be half the Rubyist I am now without their guidance and mentorship :muscle:

I think it’s really important to have mentors at work and/or in the community. For the junior developer, it’s great to have a fast feedback loop and not have to learn everything “the hard way”. Leveraging the experience of a mentor can be really formative to good coding style and discipline.

From the mentor’s perspective, I think mentoring someone is almost equally as valuable, as it helps solidify your own skills. Explaining concepts or the “whys” behind certain process helps solidify your own understanding of it. I’ve tried to give back some of the excellent mentorship I’ve received myself by TAing at the CodeCore bootcamp (of which I’m also an alum) and in addition to finding satisfaction in seeing the lightbulb go off in students, it’s also allowed me to hone my understanding of fundamental concepts as well as my debugging skills.

Anyway I’d love to hear other peoples’ thoughts! :slight_smile:


While I’m able to provide mentorship at work, I’m not sure how developers can get mentorship from the community? I believe that the Polyglot Monthly Hack / Mentorship night is one option. Any other initiatives or strategies to get mentorship from the community?


When I read “mentorship from the community”, I started thinking there could be more than one way of getting mentorship.

The typical way is meeting a person and asking them to help guide me through growing as a person doing development. So far I’ve found that difficult to do, because I have automatically assumed it’s a heavy imposition. I wouldn’t be comfortable asking as I don’t know them well enough. With people whom I do know well enough to ask, the relationship would be blurred if they became a mentor. At least that’s how I’ve felt.

The other way to get mentorship is from the community. Talking with other people who are at different points on a similar trajectory lets me understand what’s ahead and what’s out there. This has been very helpful!

So far I’ve been getting mentorship the second way. I’d definitely want a one-to-one mentor though, there are things I know I’m missing out on.


@keywordNew Shall we organize something to help people meet and form one-to-one mentor / mentee relationships?

I’d personally be happy mentoring web developers building products using a Ruby / Rails stack (that’s what I’ve been doing for years! :slight_smile: ). I believe that a weekly lunch catch-up and / or async communication via email would work.

I would also be happy helping out anyone on this forum (even if that’s not 1-1 mentoring). I believe that having inputs from multiple people (not only one mentor) can be very valuable.


Here in Sydney, they have 4 different Ruby Meetups. I have only gone to 2 of them. First is the talks night which is very similar to what we have right now in Vancouver. The other one is Mentorship night dedicated for juniors who have questions on their personal projects. In my opinion, a mentorship night can be much more than that. I have learned more pair programming with senior devs than just asking a question from my TA’s back at Codecore bootcamp.


@pcreux I think that could be really useful for people. I can carve out some bandwidth to help with organizing this! Where can we start?

I’m wondering what it could look like…

If we’re going to need physical space, it may be good to do this through a couple of the meetups in town.

We could start on making a list of people who are willing to commit to a certain level of mentorship (eg. “a weekly lunch catch-up and / or async communication via email” - @pcreux). This list would drive the capacity of how many people can be taken on board. I agree with @paulo, in that we want to give people more than an evening of getting questions answered. Although, that by itself is useful too!

We could encourage people to be both mentor and mentee, so support continuous learning. A person being a mentor may also want mentoring themselves. And, as the relationships become less linear, it would increase the capacity of mentorship that can be made available.


My evenings being pretty busy, I’d love to see something like a “Lunch and Pair” where once a week, mentors and mentee grab something to eat and pair for 1 hour or so. That can occur in one physical space… or in various places in town.

But prior to that, we need a way for mentors and mentees to meet… and that’s the list you’re talking about indeed! I’m wondering if that’s something that Code&Coffee could announce and manage?


Code&Coffee may do a holiday edition. Since there would be no talks, the format would be different. The mentor/mentee meet could happen here.

#10 seems to have been set up for this very purpose, with the addition of trying to deliver beneficial software as a result.

There could also be some good overlap with Civic Tech Vancouver, in that regard.


I love how @drew is aware of all-the-things in town. :slight_smile:

Thank you for pointing out and Civic Tech Vancouver. They both aim to do good and look at the social aspect of technology. It seems that mentorship is secondary to me.

Wouldn’t a mentee prefer to get mentorship on its current project / job / career rather than on side projects though?


I really love this thread, as it’s something I’ve been thinking about quite a bit recently (as a junior / early intermediate dev).

@pcreux, as to your last question, I think from a mentee perspective (and this could totally be a personal preference), it might even be helpful to assist coming up with or finding a project to develop skills that move toward the career path they are seeking out. For example, if I’m looking to develop some of my DevOps skills, more on the dev than ops side of things, helping me find a project to work on that could develop some of those skills in a somewhat real-life way could be super useful, IMO. Of course, that is simply an example (I’m not looking for an answer to that here).

Another focus that could be more broad across any field of dev would be the idea of developing communication skills for the technical aspects of our day to day. Often, newcomers (like myself) can sometimes have the idea, but communicating that idea in a clear, concise, tech-related way can be difficult. Instead of “the docker thing that I spun up to make sure the code worked”, using terminology like “I spun up a docker container using x,y,z to test our code in a production setting”.

Interested to hear what others think :blush:


There is talk around having a workshop/round-table discussion about mentorship and connecting people for mentorship during Conf and Coffee.

Of course, that would mean that this discussion happens further down the line in March or April.

Something sooner could be up for grabs if people are down with it.


:wave: Is this round table discussion about mentorship happening at


Let’s do this!

Saturday 10am - noon can be done. It would be parallel with talks though, as one of the workshops, and people would have to miss talks for it. If 2 hours is too long, it could be shortened.

Or in the evening, after all the talks are done, it could be more of a social thing. But people may want to go home or just not have the energy for a discussion like this.


News! The round table discussion for mentorship in Vancouver is happening! We now have space (and time) at Conf & Coffee 2018 :tada:

I’d like to ask everyone and those who have already participated in this thread to help us define what this roundtable discussion will look like.


  • what outcomes do we want from the roundtable?
  • which questions do we need to answer to come up with physical next actions to get a project moving?
  • [your goals here] :wink:

Thanks for what you’ve shared so far! @alex.taylor @pcreux @paulo @drew @localghost :raised_hands:t4:


So many thoughts!

I have some experience both mentoring and being mentored. In general, I think it’s all about relationships and self-direction - everyone has limited resources and mentoring should be beneficial for all involved, otherwise someone will feel discouraged.

From a panel, I’d like to get out:

  • ideas on what resources would be helpful to mentors, e.g. advice on mentoring, tools for sharing information with the mentee, help with communication skills
  • ideas on how mentees want to learn (and what’s feasible), e.g. coming up with an individual project they could work through, coding interview prep, an hour a week for all the “stupid” questions they could ask
  • suggestions on how the program can help the local community, e.g. working on projects for local organizations
  • suggestions on how the program can help the wider community, e.g. helping out new open-source contributors

Ideally, we could gather resources for mentors and mentees to help them define their relationship.

The Recurse Center has done an experiment in mentoring - - and they used an application process for mentees similar to the one for the general community. I think having an application process with sensible questions, mostly focused around self-direction and how the mentee wants to get better as a programmer, would be a good step. I have some experience interviewing for RC, so we could discuss if the rules they have in the community are something applicable in the local context.

Also, I can’t stop myself from linking this blog post anywhere there is a discussion on mentoring - :slight_smile:


Yes, what @trueskawka said!

The book Designing Your Life has a section about looking for mentors. They highlight that a lot of people don’t know that they can be (good) mentors and don’t have the time or energy to have a mentee but they are great people to invite over coffee to chat about their experience. Which leads me to: outcome: what are the various ways for a mentee to get mentorship? What are the various forms of mentorships?

I won’t be around on Saturday for the round table unfortunately.

Have fun!


It’s on Sunday now! We switched it around last weekend.


The minutes from the Summit roundtable on the 15th of April at Conf & Coffee 2018 are up! Thanks for your patience. We’re grateful for your attending and contributing your opinions, experiences, and knowledge.

We welcome comments and review, also from people who did not make it.