I wrote about how I started mentoring a young man I met on a plane. The mentoring ended after the first session, because the communication between us stopped. I failed to follow up with him and keep him accountable.
Last month, I had my computer out on the train ride home. I was work on my projects. One night, on my way back from Orbital, a stranger asked “is that Ruby?”. I learned that he was learning to program through Thinkful, and was struggling to make headway. I offered to help him learn to code by taking on practical work assignments.
We made practical headway on his project during the second meeting. We reviewed the materials I suggested he read. After understanding what he was struggling with, we went through his project. He didn’t realize that he did have a good foundation from the Thinkful lessons. It became clear that his previous knowledge helped him understand the new concepts I taught him. Together, we set up his first prototype: http://activateapp.herokuapp.com/
Our third meeting answered questions he had been building up. I found that my role moved away from knowledge transfer and became focused on general encouragement. The assignments and tasks I suggested he read we no longer a focus of our meeting. He had begun finding resources on his own that he was reading and wanted particular questions answered. I could tell he was getting caught up with unnecessary parts of his project, so I helped refocus his priorities. Because the project was the medium for learning, I needed to help him simplify the concept.
I’ve had 3 mentoring sessions so far and there is still a long way to go. Overtime, I have developed a nice friendship. I expect we will continue to meet for a long time to come. I can see my own tendencies in the way he approaches problems. While I am helping him learn to code, I am also learning a lot from his own process.