The Developer Fountain of Youth

by Brittany Martin in


In learning you will teach, and in teaching you will learn.
— Phil Collins

On my teaching nights, I traverse the country coaching perspective developers from my house. Mentoring at Bloc.io, a remote developer bootcamp, has been the number one reason I have leveled up as a developer. 

My TLDR Developer Origin Story

  • Non-Technical Product Manager in Pittsburgh 
  • Moved to San Francisco 
  • Couldn't locate a Non-Technical PM gig, enrolled into Bloc's Rails Fundamentals course while working in Marketing
  • Became a Support Engineer, laid off after a year when company shut down
  • Joined a dev shop as a remote PM/developer
  • Became a mentor at Bloc
  • Moved back to Pittsburgh
  • Joined my current day job as Lead Ruby Developer

Three years later, I still feel that learning to code is one of my best decisions. That enthusiasm spills into all of my mentoring sessions.

How Mentoring at Bloc Works

Students enroll in Bloc through a Student Advisor. Once they are a week away from their start date, they are asked to choose their mentor, usually based on their appointment availability and the mentors' profiles. You can check out my profile here

Once a student and a mentor are matched up, the mentor receives an email that links to the student's profile so we can learn the basics: why they want to be a developer, their experience level and their location. Mentors will send a welcome email and explain to the student how their weekly appointments will work. 

Once the student's course starts, they can immediately dive into Bloc's curriculum to complete checkpoints and assessment. I receive an alert every time they have material for me to review. I give the checkpoint a passing or needs a revision grade with detailed notes. As they progress, we move more of our communication away from the Bloc platform and on to Github so they get a real feel of a developer's daily life. 

As far as the weekly half hour appointments go, I encourage my students to be in charge of what they want to cover. Sometimes this is reviewing quiz and assessment scores, pair programming on a project or assignment or advising on career growth and networking. In between appointments, students can message me with any questions they have. 

Why Mentoring Rocks

Meeting all my students!

Meeting all my students!

I'm assigned a wide range of students: some whom are already working in technology to those whom have never written a single line of code. Because of this, I often get insightful questions that cause me to step back and think about how I understand a concept. Even better, I'll show my student how to implement a solution in a different language/framework and they shout with joy. Being in touch with what it feels like to be a new developer is the key to staying young in this field. 

I can't grow old as a developer as long as students are pushing me to stay on top of the latest trends. Just because appointments are a half hour long doesn't mean I won't spend several hours of research time to be prepared. I listen to more podcasts and read more newsletters than ever so that I always have new topics to discuss.

While all of Bloc's mentor work from the same curriculum, we have the opportunity to throw in extra advice to help guide the student to meet their goals. I found myself relaying my own personal advice to so many students and mentors that I created a repository to share. 

While talking online is fun, meeting in person is my favorite. It always feels like I'm meeting an audio pen pal. I love that I have a friend in almost every major city because of Bloc. 

Bloc happens to be hiring mentors. If you're interested, feel free to reach out to me.