Mentorship and Coaching

Both mentorship and coaching are development-focused relationships.  Such relationships are critical to a successful career in Software Engineering.

Mentors and coaches enable you to accelerate your professional development.  They empower you by giving you self-awareness and strengthening your ability to problem-solve.

There are many similarities between mentoring and coaching.  Neither have governing bodies, so there are no standard definitions for what they are.  Let's explore what they commonly look like in practice.


Mentorship involves the consultation of a trusted advisor.  The mentor, who has more experience and knowledge, gives support, advice, and motivation to the less-experienced mentee.

More often than not, the mentor relationship is an informal one.

In its simplest form, you have a friend, a teammate, or a classmate that you look up to.  You ask them for their opinion or advice on a particular situation you're facing at work.

You may have regular one-on-one meetings scheduled - or you may just talk to this person on a semi-regular basis.

While there is benefit in these informal mentorship relationships, as an aspiring or early-career Software Engineer, it is important for you to find a formal mentorship.

This is a professional relationship - your mentor has an objective view that your friends - and sometimes even coworkers - will not.

Your employer may offer a mentorship program or you can ask your manager to refer you to someone within your organization.  Maybe you're in a bootcamp program or a part of some other group that offers a mentoring program.  You can even find your mentor on your own.

Once you have a formal mentorship, work with your mentor to set goals for yourself.  Use your mentor to hold you accountable to those goals - check in on your progress with them and course-correct on a regular basis.

Because you know that you can trust your mentor, ask your mentor for constructive feedback.  Your mentor can identify weaknesses and offer constructive criticism aimed at professional growth.

Ask your mentor about common behaviors, practices, and expectations in the industry.  Ask about their work habits and daily rituals - the most successful Software Engineers have these - and they have honed these practices over many years.

Don't be afraid to ask your mentor to make introductions.  Building a professional network is a huge asset that will help you in your journey to build a successful career in Software Engineering.


Coaching is a formal creative process that helps you define your vision and then inspires you to drive toward that clear vision.

Often it is a paid engagement with a specially trained - and sometimes certified - coach.

In the beginning of the creative process, coaches often use some type of assessment to understand where you are and what your strengths and weaknesses are.

Your coach will help you get clarity on your own vision - taking you through a journey of self-reflection.  Ultimately, you'll end up with a well-defined future state for your own life.

Once you have a clear vision, your coach will work with you to set steps to achieve that vision.  They'll continue the creative process, finding ways to inspire and motivate you.