Recent-college-grads and n00bs can be exhausting. I’m not going to candy-coat it for you. It is no walk in the park. But it can be very rewarding and an excellent opportunity for your company and a great experience for yourself.
The most important things
First of all, if you can make this guy think like you, then there will be 2 of you. Hopefully, that is a good thing because if you are a cranky jerk, it would be really wrong for you to sabotage somebody’s career/life. Try to think about any advice that [you know now] that you wish somebody had told you when you first started-out. Make it a priority in your life for a little while.
If you are training/mentoring a beginner, please print this list out and tape it to your monitor:
1. The better you mentor this person, the better he/she will turn out. Especially while work habits are first being formed.
2. You need to spend more time on the first day/week and less time as things progress. This is an investment that will pay-off after 3 months (maybe 4).
3. Develop a plan for the current week and each day of that week. Write it down. Have him/her take notes as you go over it. (Don’t hand him/her your copy). Instead, say “take notes on this” and start talking. At the end ask him/her to repeat it to you, so you can confirm that you are both clear on this. (Be prepared for this to turn into a learning moment, initially. Just sayin’)
4. Evaluate how the day/week plan went. Discuss what went wrong and how to handle it next time. Reassure him/her that there are always good days and bad days and that you understand it and are expecting it. Be clear that you want to hear about the bad stuff so you can help troubleshoot it. After a few weeks, attempt to confide in some of the problems that you had that week (as an example) but keep it light (no talking about office politics unless you can be friendly about it, not sour or cranky).
Mentoring a person will teach you a few things about yourself. You will reveal your own habits and maybe even feel a little hypocritical sometimes. Good. Man-up and fix yourself, while you’re at it. Embrace the opportunity.
In part 2, I will discuss some great programming tasks to assign to a n00b.