Throughout my career I’ve done mentorship in an unofficial capacity, usually starting out with “hey can you help me with this technical problem” and sometimes it turns into me being the guy junior devs come to for tricky bugs, sometimes it’s a more comprehensive technical design/workplace issues/career advice kind of outlet. I enjoy being able to help people and in more cynical moments it’s felt like the only thing I do in my job that’s having any kind of positive impact.
Lately though I’ve been thinking that mentoring less experienced devs in whatever company I’m with at the moment is great, but in some sense folks that have gotten through education (be it college or some kind of bootcamp thing) aren’t the people that could benefit from mentorship the most, given they’re already in the industry and often have access to plenty of other forms of membership.
When I was a teenager struggling to stand up a fansite or scratching my head over stack traces I was really lucky to have a technical mentor, just someone I had met on a forum, who took the time now and then to point me in the right direction. They really didn’t invest a ton, just took the time to explain why I didn’t need the latest and greatest stack or a distributed database, explained that the mysterious dollar sign I saw everywhere actually meant “jquery”, stuff like that. But it was amazingly helpful to me and I owe this random person who took some time out of their day to help me now and then for helping me get to where I am. I’d love to be able to pay that forward in some way.
So question here is if any crustaceans have experience with this kind of “pro bono” mentorship, and if so do you find it rewarding? What channels are there for offering this kind of mentorship? I searched around a bit and found plenty of services that seem a lot like paid tutoring, but that’s definitely not what I’m looking for, I never would have had access to something like that when I needed it.