Here are some examples of technical, career, and personal goals that participants in the Project Thrive programme set in their mentoring relationships! 🚀
Helping Me Prepare for the AWS Sub-Saharan Challenge
After working with my mentor through a personal SWOT analysis I now have a much clearer idea of the career path ahead of me. And so, I've registered for an AWS course and already have my exam voucher! Over these next few weeks, my mentor will help me prep for the exam and (hopefully) get me closer to an AWS certification 🤞
Dealing with Weaker Skill Areas
An area where I have the most difficulty is in Data Structures and Algorithms, after a talk with my mentor, I decided on solving at least one problem set from LeetCode per week. That way, I get to build up my problem-solving skills and prepare myself for interviews.
Becoming More Aware of Other Opportunities in the Tech Space Outside of Software Engineering
I've just started out my career as a junior software engineer. As much as I am enjoying what I'm doing currently, I'm trying to cover my bases in the potential event that later down the line in my career I decide that actually I don't want to continue my career as a software engineer and potentially switch roles to something else that is still in the overarching tech space.
When beginning this journey, I did not have any ideas of what those other roles might be as I was very unfamiliar with what they all entailed, what the responsibilities were, and what they actually did on a day-to-day. So through this journey, we agreed that each week I would arrange meetings with the guys at my company across all the different roles in order to gain a better understanding of what it is they did and if it would be something I may potentially be interested in doing. So far it's been a great success, and it's been really enjoyable being able to gain a better understanding of what everyone else around me does.
After chatting to my mentor about my goals and where my career was heading, we both decided that instead of focusing on technical skills, we would focus on leadership and soft skills. Naturally, I am in critique wonderland. For the past few weeks, I've been working on a "Book Club" where we work through a book called Dare to Lead with a few other mentors and mentees from the Thrive community. So far it's been a challenging experience but in the most positive way. I am learning a lot from the experience—not only about leadership, but also about myself. I'm using many of these new skills in my work and personal life. It's only up from here (so far, no one has hit me over the head so I think it's working).
Dealing With The Day-to-Day Challenges of Working in Tech
The tech space is a fast-paced and challenging environment. For someone to reach their career goals, they need to deal with certain obstacles that everyone is bound to encounter at some point in their career. One that stands out the most is imposter syndrome.
I often advise my mentee to be aware of his knowledge gaps and to understand that he's in a career where everybody is always in a cycle of continuous learning. That said, it's important to find a method of learning that works for him. This could be blog writing, giving talks, or even creating small GitHub repos—all these methods involve him actively applying the concepts he's learned. Even as a mentor I still consider myself a learner in this industry and prefer problem-based knowledge where whatever I learn is based on the problem I'm trying to solve. But I would advise any mentees to find what works for them.
While I think continuous learning and application is important, I'm aware that the worst thing that can happen to a you is trying to be overly productive to the point where they burnout. Never deprioritise sleep or rest. Doing things outside of the code is also important! Everyone needs a hobby or a way to take time off from changing the world through code. Mental exhaustion is never fun or rewarding. Give yourself a break.
If I had to sum up my advice:
- Break down your goals into small, manageable tasks that can be done quickly (momentum is key here)
- Find a way to be accountable for your goals
- Go easy on yourself; we're all learning
- Take time off from code and prioritise your health and family
My mentee has made such great progress and really surprised me in his how well he executed the above recommendations. It would have been great to meet him in person (our mentoring relationship was virtual since we were in different provinces).
Learning to Implement Stress Management Strategies While Picking Up a New Tech Stack
After running through the SWOT analysis with my mentor we were able to shed light on some of the areas that had room for improvement in my work life. For example, due to bouncing around between many responsibilities and tech stacks at work, I feel that I have missed out on many of the nitty gritty aspects of programming such as design patterns. This in turn fuels both imposter syndrome and causes me feelings of stress.
Working at an Intermediate Level as a Front-End Developer
My mentor and I used the SMART analysis, which incorporates all of the following criteria to help focus our efforts and increase the chances of achieving our set goal:
SPECIFIC - I want to be working at an intermediate level as a Front-End Developer and professional.
MEASURABLE - I want to use my mentoring journey to create a stronger skill set (both soft skills and technical skills).
ACHIEVABLE - I will learn tools to combat overthinking, disorganisation, and bottlenecks that might be limiting my productivity.
REALISTIC - I will implement these strategies on my Kanban Board. The goal is to decrease time-to-completion on my tasks.
TIME-BOUND - 12 Weeks; in this period I will revamp my CV, LinkedIn, and Portfolio in order to grow my network and thrive.