An alternative to finding a "coding mentor"

Do you really need a mentor?

That's the question, isn't it?

In my opinion, no, you don't need a mentor. If you can find one, great! But chances are you won't find a mentor when you're just learning how to code. But there are some alternative solutions that are OK. But there's ONE solution that I strongly prefer over one-on-one mentorship.

Bootcamps

Bootcamps can be a great place to find a mentor. But the downside is you're paying a small fortune for it, and it's not even one-on-one mentoring. I do not recommend taking this approach.

Facebook groups

Facebook groups have a lot of good and bad advice, but it's impossible to tell what's right from wrong in all the noise unless you know who to trust. See, the thing is... everyone else in those Facebook groups are newbie developers too, so they're sharing advice from a newbie perspective. Now, there's nothing wrong with that, but that's not a good way to find a coding mentor.

The alternative solution

Find 3 friends (even if they're just internet friends) and create a private group with them. I suggest chatting with them using Slack or Discord — something you can type to using a keyboard (sharing code with a mobile phone is next to impossible and incredibly frustrating, you'll dislike doing that on the first day, I promise).

Once you have a group of 4 people, and a place to chat, the next step is to learn together and share resources.

The idea here is that learning everything on your own is hard and time consuming. But if you and 3 friends learn together, you'll learn different things, share resources and bounce ideas and conversations off of each other.

Someone will share a resource about something that I know very little about, such as Apache web servers — which is great because we can then have a conversation around that subject. And I'll share resources around, say, Wagtail CMS, and that's great because I'm on the core development team and can help them out. It all balances out in the end, and no dollars were exchanged.

Plus, now we're all good friends. We share job postings with each other, keep job openings open for each other, and we're all friends!

It's not quite the same as a mentor, but it's a very powerful (and free) method to learning faster in a safe environment.

The problem...

The problem with finding a mentor is two fold:

  1. Nobody wants to mentor a brand new developer these days. There's a lot you can learn on your own or through bootcamps like The Ultimate Fullstack Web Development Bootcamp and mentors prefer to help people who are working on bigger, harder, problems.
  2. Mentors are expensive. You're paying for someones life experience and often that means you're paying for YEARS of experience to help fast forward your own learning journey. Now, if you have the money, great! If you don't... well... I guess tough luck? But this is why my alternative solution is much better.

How it worked for me

At one of my jobs a number of years ago I met 3 people — we all loved coding, we all shared similar opinions, and we all enjoyed helping other people.

2 out of the 4 were better backend devs than me, and the other was a better frontend dev.

Fast forward to today, we're still talking every day on Slack, sharing resources and fun findings. And when one of us has questions about anything we can ask each other in this group chat we have and get solid, trusted, advice.

How do you get started?

First, make sure you have the basic skills of a junior web developer. If you don't think you could find employment with the skills you have, chances are a mentor won't want to work with you. That's just the harsh truth.

Try taking The Ultimate Fullstack Web Development Bootcamp on Udemy (sign up using the link below to get an amazing discount!). For like $15 you can get a full coding education with a 30 day money back guarantee. You literally cannot find a better deal than that.

Next, once you have some skills, consider joining some Facebook groups, friending a few people, and creating your own mini "members only" club where the 4 of you can learn from each other, teach each other, and share resources.