Aptera’s Evolving Mentorship Program
During some organizational changes a few years ago, Aptera recognized the need to ensure closer support to individual developers. One of the solutions was to strengthen an existing informal mentoring program. To make sure developers had the professional support they needed, practice leads assigned a senior developer to all new developers as an official mentor. That mentor relationship proved valuable as we transitioned to a primarily-remote workforce in the face of the global pandemic.
As we tweaked that mentor process, we switched it up to ask each mentee to select their own mentor from a pool of participants. We expanded the mentor program to guide the QA team members with rotating mentor relationships. We tied the mentor program to the Aptera Academy to ensure the foundations of the Academy continued through the developers’ time at Aptera.
We recently finished the latest round of mentor selections, so I thought I would talk to a few Apterans about the experience. I heard a lot of positive feedback. People seem to like having experienced professionals to guide them in their career. Imagine that.
How to Get the Most Out of the Mentorship Program
Eric Potter has years of experience instructing and mentoring young software developers. His advice for a good mentor working relationship included this: “The key to being a good mentor is being a good friend. You should help wherever you can, but mostly be a sounding board. You can’t always separate life stuff from work stuff. So, let’s talk about it.”
Ashley Stove talked about how a mentee can get the most out of the experience. “Be upfront about goals. Where do you see yourself heading? Have goals to work for and have concrete steps. Be open and honest with your struggles and trust your mentor to help you through it.”
Alexa Beach used the mentoring process to understand the steps and set the goals that led to her promotion to Senior QA Analyst. Now she’s paying it back by mentoring others. She said, “Mentoring pushes me to be my best self while helping someone else be their best self. It’s not just one-sided. It’s a two-sided communication.”
How Mentorship Supports the Dev Team
Kurt Taylor had a great experience as a mentee, so he volunteered to serve as a mentor for devs just starting out on their career journey. He said the process is rewarding from both sides. “Trying to make the connection and break down problems from a different perspective makes me better at communicating. It helps me with soft skills and people side of things. Being able to talk through things one-on-one privately helps me be a better teammate.”
Clint Herron came to Aptera with a wealth of experience from other organizations. He poignantly described the mentor program as a key component in a support safety net: “Aptera’s support is like a spider web instead of a single string hanging off a tree branch. If one thread is clipped, I re-center and I’m well supported by the other three threads. Mentoring is one of the cross-lines in the spider web that keeps things stable.”
The opportunity to mentor and to be mentored is an important part of the job for many Apterans. Clint told me, “Mentoring is a huge part of my goals for this year. It’s my favorite thing about my job here at Aptera, hands down. Getting employees to support each other is my favorite thing.”
The value of the peer interaction has not gone unnoticed within company leadership. Mark Petroff told me: “Mentoring has become an essential part of our long-term approach to supporting our employees throughout their careers at Aptera.”
The Aptera team includes quite a few smart young developers near the start of their career. We are also home to a talented bunch of experienced software professionals. The chance to turn the former into the latter is too valuable to pass up. The mentoring program helps turn that opportunity into reality.
Move Forward in Your Career with Aptera
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