Programmer Apprenticeships

Many people have asked me about programmer mentorship.

It seems many beginners, though they may know the syntax of programming, do no understand concepts like writing clean code, testing, code reviews etc. Or they are not confident that they are good enough to make money from their skills. I asked a few beginners about what they were looking for, and a common complain was that most courses waste too much time teaching syntax, and none on how to finish projects.

So far, I have been saying no, as it seems like a lot of work for little reward. Also, I’m told many people will say they are interested, but then not do any work. The way around this is to charge, but then you leave out students, people who most need this knowledge.

What I was thinking of doing was: Have a series of videos (free), which anyone can follow. If they then want 1-1 mentorship, they pay.

I will be targeting people who know the syntax of programming. Sort of a beginner to intermediate/advanced approach. But I’m not sure how to run the mentorship.

  1. Free form? They choose their project, I help them complete it. Based on previous experience, most will sit there wondering what to do. Learning to learn is an advanced skill! (that I might have to teach)

  2. Structured: I tell them, you must do X project in Y time. In an unofficial Scrum way, where they give me regular reports, get feedback etc. The advantage is they have something to show at the end. But I’m still worried I’ll be doing the work for them, or they won’t like me telling them what to do, and drop out.

Does anyone have any experience in this, any tips on how to proceed? Keeping in mind I would still like to get paid for this.

[quote=“shantnu, post:1, topic:3179”]
If they then want 1-1 mentorship, they pay.
[/quote]Will you be charging a lot of money for this service? Because that doesn’t sound like it would scale.

Why not continue with the idea of videos, but come up with a course teaching “writing clean code, testing, code reviews etc.” Perhaps show a sloppy way to write a project and then walk through a code review, clean up the code, write tests,… Put the course on Udemy or another service and charge for it.

How Rob Percival earns over $100,000 a month on Udemy:

How many is “many”? Honest question because I can’t help but think that you’re over-stating the demand. In 10+ years of programming I have never been asked to be someone’s mentor, I can’t imagine how this would even come up.

I also have to +1 steve.

Looking at this from the perspective of opportunity cost, you should be able to make much more spending the same amount of time doing consulting. Companies have money and acute need for services of programmers. Individuals are allergic to paying for things and the benefit of mentoring is speculative.

I wouldn’t use outliers like Rob Percival to build my hopes up but I agree with general point: there are many people making a little bit or even a lot selling ebooks or video curses on Udemy and elsewhere, so if education is your thing, those proven businesses are more likely to work than something that no-one else seems to be doing.

Finally, you have been approached by potential customers. Why are you asking us?

Next time someone asks for mentorship, ask them what exactly do they expect from you and quote them a price. All you need to know is: are they reaching for a credit card or slowly backing away with expression of horror on their face?

I have been a member of this forum for years, and asking for the feedback of peers is a fashionable thing here. I’ll be more careful next time.

Yes, it looks like I’ll go down this route.