Table Topics Thursday: Topic 11

This Thursday’s Table Topics question is: Who has inspired you as a mentor and why?

When I presented Mentoring, from the Successful Club Series, I used the following example from my past to personalize the benefits of mentoring for the audience.

When I started work in the job I had before my current one, I felt very much out of my depth.  It was my first real programming job and I didn’t know whether I had the skills or experience required.  Added to the fact that my pay took a quite sizable jump at the new job made me even more worried about not measuring up.

However, in my first week, one of my new teammates took me very much under his wing.  He was extraordinarily supportive and helpful.

I was given a task to do and when he looked over what I had done, he praised me in terms that I remember fondly to this day.  He called me: Alpha Geek.

With his support, praise and tutelage, I was able to quickly overcome my insecurities and grow in both skill and confidence.  I hope that I’ve been able to pay it forward and help someone else to grow and develop.

Now it’s your turn: Who has inspired you as a mentor and why?


About Dan Kingsepp, ACS, ALS
I'm starting this blog to share my thought on the use of the English language and my experiences as a Toastmaster.

One Response to Table Topics Thursday: Topic 11

  1. Jim Kingsepp says:

    Similar story: I was fortunate fairly early in my career to find someone capable of recognizing shit, labeling it shit and explaining why it is shit.

    I was working in a pre-press house back in the late 80s when desktop publishing was new. I worked on page templates, output film, made matchprints, etc. I learned an awful lot about book production and pre-press. I also began writing XTensions for Quark XPress using the sample code from Quark’s developers’ kit. These XTensions were a lot of cut-and-paste hack work, basically finding snippets of code and forcing them together, checking for consistent variable names, etc. I got stuff to work but really wouldn’t call myself a programmer by any stretch.

    Yet I applied for a job as a client-server database developer at a financial ratings company. I submitted samples of my code as instructed by the classified ad and I got a call for an interview. I got the job somehow and was immediately over my head.

    Fortunately there was in the development group an old UNIX guy. He always asked me why I took one approach over another. He would stop me when I was talking and ask me what I was trying to do. And he would show me how what I was actually doing was different than what I was trying to do. He called me out for what I was: a hack; and he taught me best coding practices; he showed me how to abstract pieces of my work; I learned the difference between code that runs and code that can be maintained. He showed me how to organize my work in such a way that changes to the business rules or specification can be absorbed most easily.

    He told me about six months after I was hired that he had seen code samples from other candidates that was much better than what I had submitted. Yet he must have seen something in me that had potential.

    I owe a lot to this guy. I’ve carried some of the discipline he showed me into other areas of my career. His name is Charles Mills.

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