At Present Connection, we started an internal mentorship program to make our employees feel more engaged with the company and help them improve their careers. Also, it’s helping people to connect on a personal level which is the number one priority for our organization. The company mentoring program already shows great involvement from employees and received feedback which helps us constantly improve. We are working hard to make this mentorship program highly impactful and successful.
An interview with one of our mentors, Olegs, and mentee Mindaugas. Their story reveals that a knowledge-sharing approach within an organization is not only mutually beneficial but also highlights a number of aspects for improvement.
Mentor: Olegs Čapligins
What was the main reason you joined the internal mentorship program?
I am an apologist of the classical meaning of ‘hacking’ – the pursuit of knowledge, research, practice, and experiments. I sincerely believe that the answer to life, the universe, and everything is not only 42, but also sharing knowledge. And I genuinely like teaching and helping people to grow.
How would you describe your personal style?
Pick the fight, play by ear, and things will go my way. I put the practice first, but with a certain and necessary amount of theoretical basis to support and build a robust skillset.
Learn to program, not the new language. Technologies appear, evolve, and die. I think generic programming knowledge and learning a new language and technology is way more efficient than saying; I know this.
Did you have experience being a mentor before this project?
Yes. For the past seven years, I do it on a pretty regular basis.
Would you mind telling more about the project you were focusing on (the type of meetings, project management, assessment of progress, etc.)
Mindaugas (my mentee) wanted to get a grip on Python. However, unfortunately, he didn’t have any ideas for his project. So, to work with a wide range of technologies, I proposed trying to develop a chatbot.
Despite looking primitive, this project could provide practice in asynchronous programming, a wide variety of data structures, work with API, and many other valuable concepts.
Also, I tried to emphasize concepts that were specific to Python and how they reflect generic concepts. The main technology stack that Mindaugas is working on at Present Connection is .NET, so I considered drawing connection lines between different languages for better comprehension.
We agreed on weekly/bi-weekly meetings on weekends. Some mentors were performing the practice during workdays, but I saw my approach would be more efficient – less stress, more time to rest, and switch from work.
We were working with Git Flow, which also is applied in actual practice and work. I was issuing tasks for the next session, and every session started from Mindaugas’ work analysis, review, and QA session to clarify unclear points.
Mention your discoveries being a mentor at Present Connection.
Mentorship is guidance. The other form of education is teaching, held in lections, tests, repetition, etc. Classical education, if you will. I don’t mind either way, but teaching requires much more time, effort, and quite a different approach.
The main discovery was that the concept of mentorship could be misinterpreted. Usually, I expect that initiative comes from the mentee. It is (s)he who wants to grow and gain knowledge and skills, not me who tries to raise someone.
However, I will ask mentees to describe the project they will develop and polish for future programs and projects.
Are you planning to continue the mentoring practice?
Absolutely. If someone asks, I will answer.
Mentee: Mindaugas Stanionis
Do you find this mentorship program beneficial? What’s working well?
Yes, I find this mentorship very beneficial. You can learn new technologies, understand and write the code more professionally, look at the tasks and problems differently.
Would you do anything differently if given the second opportunity?
No, everything went perfectly and clearly.
Please tell more about the project you were focusing on (the type of tasks, code review, planning, etc.)
I was focused on a discord bot project for a game called Old School Runescape. This bot can interact with people and tell them if any of the game streamers are online, tell if the player is online by his username, his game stats, and so much more. My Mentor introduced me to all the project lifetime (from idea generation, coding, code reviews, and project implementation).
What does your mentor consider to be your most significant success?
I don’t know, my attendance at meetings, I guess.
What are your plans related to improving your development skills?
Make this project bigger, and do many more projects with Python.