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Q & A with Present Connection Mentor and Mentee Justinas Barbuška

Please tell us about your interest in the internal mentorship program. Why you became a part of it?

There were a few reasons I signed up as a mentor. The major reason was that I wanted to learn new things. For some, it may be strange how you can learn new things when you are the one who is teaching? To teach others, I had to go through all the theories and prepare to answer all the mentees’ questions. They also often ask unexpected questions where I don’t know the answers on the spot. This forces me to learn something new all the time.

Other reasons were to go out of my comfort zone (mandatory reason for all actions :)), improve my managing / mentoring skills and do something useful while I am stuck at home during quarantine.

Quarantine is a part of the reason I became a mentee too. I think that communication is the key to solving issues, so I often visited colleagues from other teams to discuss some issues and share knowledge. Quarantine forced us to stay at home and visiting colleagues to have a quick chat was no longer possible. The mentorship program allowed me to have scheduled calls to have meaningful discussions with a mentor without interrupting their work.


From your perspective, what are the significant benefits of being a mentor and a mentee at the same time?

I don’t think it is a must to be a mentor and a mentee simultaneously, although I saw some benefits of doing so. One of the most apparent benefits is that I can talk with my mentor about my mentees. We even combined meetings with my mentees and my mentor to discuss careers in IT, soft skills, and other things that could be useful for the developer’s growth.


The learning process is successful itself, but are there some criteria for measuring mentee success?

I’m teaching programming in this mentorship program, but writing code is only half of the work. Other critical things are communication, time management, ability to solve issues independently and with others, willingness to learn new things, and figure out how things work “under the hood”. All these things add up, and if the mentee is thriving as a developer and also has required soft skills, then I see a bright future for this person 🙂


Please share some details about how you organize your work with mentees.

The plan looks like this:

* Learn theory

* Do an assignment with a deadline

* Create a personal project

I created a plan for learning materials and tutorials that mentees can follow. Every Monday, we have a call to discuss what we learned in the past week and what we will do in the next. Sometimes, I give some homework. Later I’m planning to do code reviews with each mentee individually.


Would you have some advice to share with those who have never tried mentorship programs (being a mentor or even mentee)?

For mentees – don’t be afraid. I think sometimes people are scared to show that they don’t know something.

For mentors – I think being a mentor is a great way to test and improve your soft skills, so it’s worth trying it at least once.


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