Apprenticeship Pattern Review 8: Find Mentors

The “Find Mentors” pattern from Apprenticeship Patterns by Oshineye and Hoover is one that has relevance no matter how far along on your software craftsman journey you are. Whether you are opening an IDE for the first time or are a seasoned veteran who has contributed endless amounts of knowledge to the field of software development, it is important to seek and learn from those who’ve been through the trials and tribulations that you have yet to face. There is a stereotype that programmers are these hermit-like creatures that rarely see the light of day and seldom speak to other humans. In their dark caves, they churn out program after program in a vacuum-like environment. This is simply not the case and every single person who calls themselves a software developer can benefit from collaboration, specifically seeking out those who have already made the mistakes and can expedite the growing process for them.

All of the patterns that were carefully curated to appear in Apprenticeship Patterns have relevancy in practically all software developers’ professional careers. “Find Mentors” is no different as the knowledge that can be learned from a mentor can potentially be far greater than that learned alone because of the simple fact that they have walked the road and generally know the “path of least resistance” in their given field of expertise. This is why I feel this pattern is so important. Not only do mentors hold massive amounts of knowledge waiting to be tapped into for your benefit, having a mentor that you can show your work to can force you to hold yourself to much higher standards than otherwise. I think the realism the authors bring to the pattern when they explain that “no one knows everything” is important because it can be tempting to rely on a mentor too much and lose confidence in them when they don’t have an answer to a given problem. They are only human too, therefore they have gaps in their knowledge just like the rest of us. Note also that the mentors one needs throughout their career change and shifts just as much as one’s own knowledge does.

This pattern has made me desperately want to seek out people I can learn from who are further along in their careers. The benefit of having mentors to obtain guidance from is far greater than the fear of ridicule that has been generally holding me back from finding mentors that can help me excel in my career.


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