Hey! My name is Vasilisa Versus, and I manage the frontend platform at SberMarket.
Now I am mentoring a senior + and an engineering manager, although I used to be very passionate about helping people take their “first steps” in IT. In this article I will tell you why I gave up this hobby, what lessons I learned and share my vision of how to become a June.
So let’s start from afar. Even from the first year of the university, I was surrounded by guys who were very worried about the question: “How can I find a job if people with experience are needed everywhere?” At the same time, I already worked in a company where there was an acute shortage of personnel, where colleagues went to teach and did everything to find at least someone.
At the junction of these two worlds, I found myself – starting at the university something like a laboratory on the basis of our department, I began to teach “Fundamentals of Web Development”. Before I started, I had a picture like this: the format of knowledge, packaging, presentation and material are primary, secondary people and, in general, the correct presentation will make anyone a developer, and not simple, but the best! And the fact that few people reach the end is just a lack of experienced teachers. But can I be a great mentor?
Most of all, I was struck by the guy who literally from the first days poured out from uncertainty. He comprehended each lecture – he recorded it in a notebook and asked questions, sometimes sharply, head-on, trying to immediately understand where and where he would be useful specifically “this knowledge”. I reassured him that all this would really be needed, and accompanied by comments: “Everything is fine, trust and just try to get used to simple tasks” … This went on for the first couple of weeks, then the person “merged” and announced that web development is too difficult for him.
Then I made edits to the material: now there was Node.js on the back-end and the study of the AngularJS framework was added. One of the best students of that set was very bright and active, I liked his “openness” and the zeal with which he took up the layout.
It would be a great story, if not for one thing, but … as soon as we began to supplement the layout with the basis on AngularJS, the student began to fade a little. I didn’t notice it right away, or rather, I tried to somehow involve or clarify: “Is everything ok?” or “Is everything clear?” But the answer was unequivocal: “Everything is ok, everything is clear.” And the activity became less and less every day.
As a result, the student completed the entire course, but refused the internship – he referred to the lack of knowledge of mathematics and that it was worth returning to the development later, in the senior years. A man turned down a paid internship because of insecurity !? Something is definitely not right here, I thought that I should pay more attention to the students and somehow rethink the material.
The material has been updated, the layout and front has been made smaller, the lecture materials have been improved, and now I am not alone. And to be honest, I realized how important people are and began to work more with each student individually. Oh, how destructive it was to start working so tightly! The most painful thing was to hear “this is not mine.”
One student proudly repeated: “I won’t be able to cope, everything is difficult,” but I proudly dissuaded and walked with her until the most victorious – she still had an internship! I didn’t give up hopes that “just about” I would like everything and everything would be fine … But it turned out that the girl experienced a certain amount of “bullying” from fellow students – then I heard for the first time the phrase “vaytishnitsa”. And there was also the dislike of colleagues from her quick entrance to a good salary already as an intern.
After three months of internship, the student chose to quit her job and focus entirely on her university studies. Only after some time did she risk going into IT again, but as a backend and freelance.
Now, years later, I realized that the mistake was that I was pulling and motivating, but then I saw that the problem lay in bad materials and in me, as in a bad teacher.
Having moved to another city and graduated from the university, I did not give up the desire to work with newbies and gathered a couple of my colleagues for cooperation and work with those who want to become a developer. Together we began to look for people through chats or through friends. At the same time, I first started giving lectures online, recording material and gradually uploading everything to YouTube.
It became clear that a lot of time and energy is spent only on focusing and reassuring the student. It’s funny that this was the main difficulty, and not the material or presentation. So, by tightening the recruitment and taking only pre-motivated people, we hoped to focus specifically on pumping skills, and not on calming down.
Online recruitment, two dozen people came to the lectures, there was also an opportunity to sign up for “individual” 1: 1, which was used by several active students. One of them asked adequate things, behaved very confidently and, in general, came first of all to analyze really difficult topics.
We often stumbled over the issues of debugging and fixing some bugs in a student’s pet-project. Everything was fine, except for one “but” – the student was primarily concerned with money: what, how and where to study in order to earn more. I often interrupted in response: “Hey, what about the users, well, or colleagues with whom to work? Why exactly money ?! ” Although I was clearly not against his motives, I tried to correct him: “Learn one thing, and after practice, already learn another.” But the student quickly parted ways with me, going to a blockchain startup, from where he quickly quit (I don’t know the details). However, two years later, the same student returned to front-end development and is now doing an internship on my recommendation.
In my opinion, these early career “job hops” and a strong lack of focus severely undermined both the interest in development and the overall skill level. Now, almost three years later, the guy barely pulls the middle and already looks burnt out.
My fuse was starting to fade, but at some point, a guy came to me, to whom I was recommended. I wanted to help, but due to lack of time, I limited myself to links to materials, as well as a couple of practical tasks that, with the proper Google ability, could be done independently.
We kept something like a “check-list” on which the student walked independently, and I validated the passage of the stages by ticking the boxes.
Examples for checklist
Surprisingly, even though it was much longer than a couple of months, the student was proactive all the time and by the end he felt confident to go to look for a job without any problems.
I was surprised by this case that everything somehow happened without my participation. I decided to repeat this scenario, and very soon I had almost a dozen such cases. At least, the confident and generally independent reached the end along this path.
Then I already decided that I was not interested in leading newbies. Now I am developing as a manager and find like-minded people of approximately equal level, with whom we draw up similar checklists and move forward, validating each other <3
But how do you become a June?
Become yourself a teacher
No one knows better than you at what pace you need to give material, no one knows what exactly “will bring tons of money” or what exactly will be suitable.
But one thing can be known for sure in advance. If you learn to listen to yourself, listen when you slow down and when, on the contrary, you go uphill; if you learn to push yourself at the right moments, without waiting for some persuasive Vasilisa, then you can learn ANYTHING! Damn everything and only the way you can!
If it was that easy? But in reality … yes! Listen to yourself, study in one direction (do not allow to rush from side to side). Any course or internship will be a great help to lay the foundation, first of all, a base of skills and an understandable path to follow, and this is what you are missing. And don’t give up! I believe in you!
Instead of a total
I used to tell everyone that IT is easy, and everyone can master hard skills … I remain unconvinced, everyone can master it with due confidence. BUT now I say to everyone: “If you feel even a drop of doubt, don’t go to IT, we need other specialists as well.”
And if you need a formula, then let me share what I understood for myself:
- you need to score on the difficulty, follow the checklist (any preparation plan you can find, the main thing is to reach a certain “confident” ground);
- it is important to learn to share feelings and experiences, communicate and be able to listen to yourself. Can’t you solo? Find like-minded people, the main thing is not to be silent and do not get lost! Speak and learn to speak;
- it is necessary to combine theory with practical exercises, so it is worthwhile to start developing as early as possible. Useful for therapeutic purposes 🙂 Aim to see the result of your work as soon as possible. Let it be some kind of simple mobile application or website, not so important, give yourself practice early;
- focus on feedback – any metrics assessed will set the stage. The leader and mentor must give some intermediate results in writing and numerically – do not allow a vacuum for yourself. If a mentor and mentor is found, and he does not record successes and failures – change the person, it will be better, really;
- your own preferences, interests and so on will be formed later … In the beginning, you need to give yourself some completeness and third-party assessment, and you do not have to succumb to internal panic and uncertainty at all. I’ve written about this so many times, but remember – you’re cool, more confidence!
If after reading it is still not clear what to do and where to start, then formulate what worries you. Which framework should you choose? It doesn’t matter, take it in the React front, in the Go backend. Love Python, but there aren’t many jobs on the market? Forget it, make a checklist and learn Python. Don’t you understand what a checklist or preparation plan is? Google “free python courses”. Confused and afraid that you don’t have N-years of work experience? Look for a company that offers internship – for example, right now we are recruiting at SberMarket for
… If you haven’t passed the interview, don’t be discouraged. Just gather your strength and try again.
Everything is in your hands, no one will take by the handle and will not tell everything, no one will give guarantees. But nothing, this is not a reason to panic! This is just an incentive to become the best teacher for yourself and to work on yourself. Good luck.