a podcast by Pawlean

Paying it Forward to change the Tech industry w/ Kim, Emma & Darren

May 19, 2021 Pauline Narvas Season 1 Episode 15
a podcast by Pawlean
Paying it Forward to change the Tech industry w/ Kim, Emma & Darren
Show Notes Transcript

 I wouldn't be where I am today without the support  from mentors and those who opened the doors for me when I knocked and asked for help.

Today I'm joined by my friends, Kim (@thekimmykola), Emma (@_emmamartin) & Darren (@mrdarrenv) as we discuss the power behind the concept of "paying it forward". We've all contributed to this idea of paying it forward through teaching courses such as Code First Girls and mentoring to help others land their first tech job. We hope that this episode inspires to contribute back to your communities and help others in your own way and capacity!

This subject is a close one to my heart, so I genuinely did get a little emotional throughout 😂  A huge thank you to Code First Girls and similar initiatives for changing the lives of so many people in tech. Including my own!
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Pauline Narvas:

Hello, everyone, I'm your host, Pauline Narvas. Welcome to my podcast, a podcast by Pauline. This is where I share my thoughts on topics that are important to me, and experiences that I think you'd find mildly entertaining or maybe even insightful. If you're new here, here's what you should know about me. I'm a 20, something year old Filipina living in the UK. I've been working in the tech industry for the past two years, and I have a degree in Biomedical Sciences. Since 2008, I've been sharing my life in pixels on my blog, Pauline Comm. I'm also a international speaker, plant lover, health and wellness enthusiast. And as someone who basically grew up on the internet, I'm also a professional oversharer. Thanks for joining me. Hello, listeners. For today's episode, we've got another collab, we'll be talking about the practice of paying it forward. This is a topic that's super close to my heart. It's one that I credit a lot of my career success to so far. So over the past few years, I've had mentors, teachers and people from our community, guiding me in my own journey. And honestly, I wouldn't be where I am today without them. Today, I'm joined by Darren, Kim, and Emma, who are all community builders, mentors and instructors. They have been leading the way with paying it forward. And I'm just so excited to hear from them and for you all to get a lot of value from our conversation today. So without further ado, Darren, Kim, Emma. Hello, thank you so much for joining me, I have to say it's so nice to see all of you virtually. And we've had like a long conversation before we started the episode. But it was just really nice to catch up with you all and see all your energy, like, you know, come out on the screen. It's just it's just been wonderful. So just to kick us all off. Let's start with a few intros. I'd like to start with you, Darren. Hello.

Darren Vong:

Hello. I'm Darren, I work as a software developer by day outside of work I really like to travel but obviously at the moment is not possible. So when that's the thing again, I'll do that more. But in the meantime, because I like it so much. Been actually working a lot on a side project mazagon open source, couchsurfing alternative platform. Which, yeah, it's going pretty well. So that's why I've been busy doing over the past couple of months. Really.

Pauline Narvas:

That's so exciting. Yeah, we I think we talked about having a separate episode about all of the open source stuff that you've been doing. But again, we'll delve into that in like a future episode. But yeah, Darren is one of my close friends. We've been friends since 2016. When we first had our first coffee together at university It's been so long about but yeah. It's so quick, isn't that and yeah, we were instructors together on the code first girls course in Sheffield. So again, we can talk about that later on in the episode. Um, Kim, do you want to give an introduction about yourself?

Kim Diep:

Hello, Kim. That's not actually my full name. My full name is tm kim. They it's just so hard to pronounce. So head slice shorted it to Kim. I'm a software engineer and tech coach at Tech returners, and I'm a tech workshop, creator mentor as well. So I love creating things for tech education, sharing my experiences with the community, and seeing people learn and grow in their technical skills and confidence. So in my spare time, I'm kind of getting back into climbing now that the gyms are open again, so really pumped up, although I felt quite weak this morning for my first climb in a couple of months. And I also play some video games on my Nintendo Switch. So animal class saying Monster Hunter, you name it, coming through the game. So that's me in a nutshell.

Pauline Narvas:

All those lovely things. It's so exciting to have you here, Kim, because your tech coach experience and just your active your activity in the communities that you're a part of. It's so inspiring to see so excited to speak with you today. And finally, Emma Hello.

Emma Martin:

Hello. So my name is Emma. I'm a software engineer at bt. I'm also heavily involved in teaching so I'm a coding instructor at Coursera and I'm a lead instructor for code first girls about like Kevin door and I work a lot with mentoring people. I mentor people through code first girls on a mentor a lot of people just externally just around kind of breaking down barriers and getting a lot more people into tech and just making tech a wee bit more inclusive. So Sign up for I bet like Darren love to travel. Unfortunately, at the minute that won't happen. But the second we are able to all the artists a country, but besides that I love to paint I paint really badly, trying to get better. I'll decorate my new house for my horrible paintings. I love to read I love to get outdoors and just for the gyms often enough, go back to the gym, and I love to hike and just do new things and get out of my comfort zone.

Pauline Narvas:

Yeah, honestly, I'm It's so lovely to have you here because we know each other from bt where I used to work. And you've been just pivotal in the mentoring in the teaching and all the different communities you're a part of. And, you know, we've got guests, or the guests I have today are just so exciting. I'm just so excited to talk through the you all of your experiences. So just to start, then you all have, you've all sort of mentioned here that you've had some sort of a teaching or like coaching experience in tech. In fact, I know all of us has contributed in one way or another through the code first girls community at some point in our lives. And it's like, it's really cool. It's I've met some cool people from the Kota skills community. And so for the people that are listening right now, and they're like, I don't know what code for us girls is, let me tell you, they are nonprofit organization, and they work on closing the gender gap in tech. And over the last few years now they've run coding courses from like introduction to front end development, Python courses, and recently our very own, Emma has been leading in the MySQL courses across the UK, for female students to learn how to code and it's it's so incredible, they're doing some amazing things. So my question for our guest today, could could you tell me a bit about what motivated you to get involved with teaching with code first girls, as well as your other contributions? I'll go to you care of us. Okay.

Kim Diep:

Yes, sure. So I'm involved in several capacitation, save in the UK. So connotations, like co bar, that coding charity, running workshops for the community, code first girls, as well as doing workshops with my friends as part of tech skills workshops. So in terms of my motivation, I just really like to evolve the way that we teach coding, I think a lot of people feel very intimidated by the amount of stuff to learn out there. Or they feel like they need to be good at maths or have a computer science degree. So part of my mission statement is to essentially give back and volunteer my time to be able to teach others and just seeing them smile and get something working on their screen just brings me a lot of joy. And that's it. I think it's just that joyful element, and also breaking down the barriers for people getting into their first role in tech. Yeah,

Pauline Narvas:

no, no, that's really, really fantastic. I love everything you, you said there just because I, like we've not met in person yet. But the content that you put out there. And the feedback I've seen from other people, it just really resonates with your ethos as a person. And it's just, it's just so inspiring to see. So yeah, no, thank you for that. Um, Emma, have you got anything to add for from your perspective? And why what motivated you to get involved?

Emma Martin:

Yes, definitely. For me, it was. So I come from a marketing degree. And it was during my marketing degree when I worked for a tech startup that actually decided that I actually want to be the person building products and making sure that we build products that are customer centric, and the people actually want the need. So it was I was kind of secondary DNA didn't know like, should I leave uni how to get into tech. And it was like an absolute whirlwind when you're setting there. And all you want to do is get in attack when you don't know how to. So I had a really amazing people who'd like pushed me towards a master's in software development on their Noy. I'm working on a job that I absolutely love. And if it wasn't for people like that, then I would never have been more out today and a job that I literally can honestly say I love going to work every day. So for me, it was just whenever I went into bt, I was always wanting to pay it forward. So I got to lead our project called m tech. We're in Northern Ireland, we went into schools, we had three schools we particularly worked with, and we were there to kind of upskill them, help them build a mobile technologies project for their community. And they're just getting really excited by tax so I absolutely loved it. And then when COVID hit, I kind of fail under code first girls teaching. Some of the girls who I had worked with Beatty actually came from code first girls a boot camp that they did on I remember when I met them being like, wow, these must have been like four years Computer Science degrees are like unbelievable. And they were like no, we literally came from code first girls so I'd always been interested in being an instructor. So when, when COVID hit out, I don't know about anyone else. I got really overwhelmed and just everyone on Twitter was building their own projects. And I was like I'm just trying to, like, keep alive, like, what can I do that like, I still feel like I'm contributing to the community. But it's not like really overwhelming me. And I can take a week at a time just to like get really settled in. Being back at home, it was a big adjustment. But from there on kind of in, as you said, Pauline, I'm kind of in the first cohort of instructors to teach the data science I kind of have just continued since then, I'm teaching mcode first girls, and then I'm being their lead instructor. And then I fell into kind of teaching more Coursera. But for me, my motivations was one pana forward on making it a bit more inclusive. Because if it wasn't for the people who were helping me, whenever I decided I wanted to join in tech, I would never have a job that I love. So being able to do that for someone else was just something I'm just making people know that you actually can't do this. And having a separate background is actually really important. You see things that other people don't see. But as well, for me, it was definitely twofold. I wanted to get more comfortable speaking technically. So by having to actually teach people I felt like a knowledge transfer is a humongous part of my role trading off other developers. This was kind of a two fold thing for me where I could get that chance to kind of get really comfortable having to speak technically having to debug on the spot having to just get myself a wee bit more confident to I've absolutely loved it. So it's definitely been a two fold thing for me.

Pauline Narvas:

No, that's so everything is that that is they just share the exact same feelings like I'm sure like, I'll move on to Darren, and I think we'll you'll probably touch on what I'm thinking. So I'll move on to you first before I add my little.

Darren Vong:

Yeah, I think both Kim and Emmas, like covered a lot of the core points of out. Yeah, just to feel good of giving back and just wanting to make things easier for people starting out. But I think were maybe a bit more unique is like, I'm both coming from a computer science background. But also, I'm also considered quite a late starter, quote, unquote. And what I mean by that is like, I didn't start coding when I'm like, since I'm a seven year old or something playing on my space, or done a vivo or something like that. I actually started quite late. In unis, I was always like catching up with my peers who have done like GCSE a level computing. So I feel like part of my motivation was I wanted to bring my perspective in and hopefully be more relatable for people who are just starting as well to share with that you don't have to start at like seven, you literally, if you put your mind to it, you can start anytime. So hopefully, I was hoping like my experience, I can use that to my advantage to help relate that to people when I teach. And then also been in computer science. The first thing I noticed, which is the severely unhealthy imbalance, of like gender, just proportion like this, just basically 95% male, like when I think was about 100 odd people on my course. And suddenly about four or five people that were female or other gender identities, which is like, quite sad to see. And yeah, I just wanted to change that. And yeah, being part of something like over skills, I feel like that's me doing my part to help change the industry, hopefully for the better. And even though it's in computer science, it kind of is reflective of the industry. So yeah,

Pauline Narvas:

yeah, no, that was great. Let me just let the record show like Darren, Darren and I taught a few of the code fair skills courses at the University of Sheffield back in 2016, up to 2018. So we did both the even though you want an instructor written the front ends, course Darren, you will always there we come week on week, I was always there in your Python, I wasn't an instructor. But I went my week on week one week, because we both have shared that sort of sentiment of trying to improve the industry. And we felt like we both felt like, you know, being involved with code for us girls and having the small impact on small group of what is it 30 students per class? It just made us feel like we weren't contributing. And,

Unknown:

you know,

Pauline Narvas:

we've had, I can't really speak for all the other courses that you've both been in Kim and Emma. But Darren and I, we've got so many success stories on Sheffield. And it's so sometimes I've I go back to the code for us girls, Sheffield courses, the alumni that were a part of that, and I go back and I look at their LinkedIn profiles. And they're all software engineers, just like we what we did that week contributed to that. And it's so nice or

Darren Vong:

Yeah, they became like data scientists and somehow

Pauline Narvas:

it's amazing. I'm like, you know, corpuscles really open that for them. It's just great to be able to have been a part of that. So yeah, no, thanks. You so much for sharing your contributions and why what motivated you to get involved? I'm actually feeling a bit emotional like thinking about, like how we we all care so much about the community and improving the wider industry. It's really, it's really heartwarming. God, I'm getting genuinely, I get asked this all the time, but how can people be involved in these communities? And like, if if someone right now is thinking, Oh, I want to be part of like paying it forward? How do I get involved? How is there a criteria? I know that like, some people come to me and they say, Oh, my God, I'd love to help out. But I only know the basics. I only know HTML and CSS, like, Can I be an instructor and they sort of get that imposter syndrome? You know, it's so my sort of question is, is it really alright for them to get involved? Even if they aren't experts per se themselves? And yeah, Emma, do you want to kick us off with that one?

Emma Martin:

Hopley um, the one thing I would say if someone's sitting there saying, I only know the basics of that is 100%. I felt, I think it's like such an imposter syndrome thing. I remember when this came forward to me, I was like, you're going to teach data science and SQL. I'm like, a back end engineer. I haven't done sequels and CD. Um, but I took the challenge. And I got familiar with the things again on one thing I would say is, you're surprised what you already know, on you data, whenever you go through the content and stuff like that you were really surprised at how much you already know how much you just pick up premiere job, enable to like, actually share this content with someone. So what I would say is code first girls, for example, have a load of ways to get involved and have their fellowship that you can be part of where you kind of get trained up as well. You can teach on their career switcher courses on their normal courses do for people in universities, which are all really really amazing opportunities for you to come in. And you'll be paired with other instructors as well. So every time I teach a cohort of students that I have another instructor, I always say what our strengths are, and what what are you more comfortable in more pieces of like the curriculum, do you want to take what pieces I feel like I'm strongest in and then you can feel see where the gaps are in the bets that maybe you're like, I'll focus on this, you can focus on that. And you can make yourself a really, really strong team. So what I would say is, if you ever want to pay for it just get involved, you can get involved with your local communities. I'm heavily involved with them, Nicole, I'm a study lead in Belfast. So we can run technical workshops that are a wee bit less than kind of taken a full, you know, like eight weeks or four weeks course that you're teaching. But there's millions of ways to get involved, whether it's going into universities and doing talks, if you really want to pay for it. It's just finding kind of, in your area. Those people like Women Who Code or any of the different community groups that you have code for squirrels if you want to do it remotely, or their code bar that Kim's involved with, there's millions of other ways. So what I would say is just do a wee bit of research, chat to other people who are doing it, I get a lot of messages from other software engineers from LinkedIn being like, I really want to do this, like what would you suggest? And you know, you know, the company kind of inside it, what do you think? Where can I add value and stuff. So I would say like, never feel free, like afraid to message someone on LinkedIn, because 95% of the time, anytime I've done it or any time that someone messages me, I will message box. So a lot of people, you'll find that you relate to older people, as in all of us here want to pay it forward. So we're already supportive of each other. So you find that it's just a really, really supportive community to be involved in on, you meet some incredible people. So if you're setting are saying not I only know the basics, get involved, because you will learn so much. But you'll also get connections and network with people who just really, really support and care about you. And definitely It was one of the best decisions that I've ever done was kind of putting myself forward to be an instructor, even though I was absolutely terrified and still get terrified when I take a break and come back. So you just learn to kind of get yourself more knowledge building each time you do it.

Pauline Narvas:

Yeah, yeah. And there's also like roles. Like, for example, when I first got involved with code first girls, I didn't sign up to be a full on. Like instructor at first, I was like the ambassador. And so even though I am Darren smiling right now, but podcast listeners can't see him smile. But if you watch this on YouTube, you can see him smile, because he's probably thinking of all the times I ran around with my code first girls t shirts around campus like joy Curtis girl, because it was so great. Yeah, I think it's one of those things that at first, I was sweating in an ambassador because I felt like I wasn't 100% ready to be an instructor because, again, like you described them, I had that like imposter syndrome. I was just terrified. But then as I sort of got used to sitting in all of the classes and hearing the same content, like every semester, I sort of was like Actually, I can't do this. Like it was last know two summers ago in 2019. I became the lead instructor in Leeds for a code first girls summer intensive course. And that was so scary for me. Cuz I taught most of the content, but also like, try to encourage all the other speakers or the other instructors who were a bit like, Oh, I'm not too sure I'm bit scared. I'm sort of like just volunteering on the side to try and get them to like, speak up and like, teach the class. And that that turned out really well. So, so yeah, it's just one of those things you sort of have to throw yourself into. Kim, is there anything you'd like to add from your experience? And what's what would you say to beginners who want to get involved? Yes, sure.

Kim Diep:

So I'm a career switcher, myself and I entered the tech industry or coding wrote my first line of code, when I was attending co first girls as a student, and also code bar as a student. So that was back in a long time ago now 2017 2018. And I was so nervous, and I wouldn't volunteer once speaker, I wouldn't do anything, I would like hide away in the corner and look at people opening up their code. And I didn't have a clue what a terminal was on my Mac, let alone write some code. So I my confidences wasn't very good at the beginning. And to me, it took me a while to build up that confidence. And part of the reason why was because I sat criteria in my head, for when the time is ready for me to actually go and volunteer and be credible. All I can say if you're a beginner, is that the industry doesn't have a criteria for you. It's the criteria that you're setting yourself. So if you are struggling to sort of make the leap to write that blog that you've made meaning to write, or maybe you want to pair program with someone, or maybe you want to volunteer to do a lightning talk, do it. Do it anyway, like sign up. And I know it sounds a bit freaky. At first, you might sign up and you might have like, moments of panic, meanwhile, oh, my goodness, may Why did I just sign up for that? How did you have like a panic beforehand, but once you've done it, it's really good for you know, your confidence. And you can also seek feedback from people on how you can improve. And I'm feeling that every day. So when I took on this role as a tech coach at Tech returners, one of the job specifications was, Kim, you're going to be teaching people who are mid to senior level in technology. And I'm only two years or a year and a half into a software engineering role myself. So every day, I literally have to learn the materials, curate the contents and the sessions and deliver the sessions to people who are going to ask me very tricky, tricky questions, because they're, they're the experts as well, right? So I'm finding that by teaching others, and by volunteering and running sessions and writing blogs, it's having a positive feedback on my own learning. So I'm finding that concepts are sticking a bit better now. So concepts like object oriented programming, test driven development, or these words that may be a year or two ago, in my first two roles in tech, I never really understood I just got the code working, I think a vote on my recent blog, just write something, just make it work. But now I'm having to slow down and think carefully, how do I articulate this tricky concept to someone who is actually newer to it. And it's making me feel a lot more conscious about my own learning as well. So if you are beginner, don't just learn from tutorials, don't just, you know, read things blindly. Go out there join communities like code, bar, Free Code, Camp code, first girls and just get stuck in and asked to pair program ask if you can volunteer for a session because there'll be people there to to help mentor you to get there.

Pauline Narvas:

Yeah, no, that's so so great. I think like what you said about just throwing yourself out there and just going for it. It just it that's sort of the way to go, I would say, but it can be a bit freaky, but like you said, I think everyone feels like that when they jump in. I'm giving a girl But yeah, congrats for giving a go and I didn't know you were only a year overdue.

Kim Diep:

I am only a year I've only a year and a half into software engineering. And all of a sudden, exactly like the other day I had to teach to teach something and react and literally only just learned myself on it. Sometimes I wonder Oh, wow. How did I get And so this low in the first place and, and to be honest, like the job description was massive. And I remember having my interview and thinking, I finally met 20% of what's written there and so so technology, but I went for the role anyway, and I got the role for some research.

Darren Vong:

That is really encouraging. I will save anyone, any any take away from this take this away, like when you apply to things literally just bloody Go for it. Like it's a wish list job descriptions, you're never gonna hear 100% the requirements,

Emma Martin:

the people you're writing, sometimes or HR have no idea actually what they're hiring as well. So they'll put like, things. And I remember the funniest one I seen was like a junior, like an entry level role. And it was like three to five years and like HTML, CSS, and like JavaScript never like heard entry level has five, three to five years. So

Darren Vong:

yeah, that's basically like a mid level to senior engineer. With that amount of experience, I would say so is this crazy?

Pauline Narvas:

It really is encouraging for people who want to get involved with with teaching, because it shows that you don't need to have years and years of experience to put yourself out there and start teaching and paying it forward. Um, Darren, is there anything you'd like to add to that?

Darren Vong:

Yeah, so the thing about being beginners, I think one thing I would add is the common fear, I think, when you feel like you're not good enough, because the imposter syndrome is kicking your ass is not knowing how to answer difficult questions. And I think my number one response to that is just be honest. And say, you don't know and actually be open to do the research and say like, Oh, I don't know, but I'll do some research and get back to you and actually take that as a learning opportunity and learn with the student. I mean, a number of times, I've learned things like, especially when you've done the Python course from reporting, so you know, like, number of times, people set up their Python on Windows, and all these weird things. I'm a pro, as a result of doing the COVID whiskers course, I'm not even joking. Like I didn't, because I don't use Windows on Python myself that much. So those problems that the students were coming across, and I was even like, Oh, am I even qualified enough to help? I have no idea what's going on. But then, but then I've just said like, I don't know, I'm going to research and get back to you. And I've learned so much from doing that. So yeah, so don't let that stop you from thinking about getting involved. And the other thing I wanted to say is just because you think you have to be an expert, and I would actually counter argue that like when you're an expert, you forgot some of the struggles that you had when you were a beginner. So I would say when you're an expert, you're actually more terrible at explaining things to beginners. Because then you say like I don't have with react because I work with react a lot recently. You were just throw some jargons that Oh, yeah, you just write this hoc and whatever and reshare this functionality. And that just means that complete garbage to beginners. But but in your head, you're just like, it all makes sense. So I would say you actually have an advantage for not being an expert, because you're going to share those same struggles with people who are just learning and hopefully you'll be able to teach things in a more accessible way than an expert would be able to so use that to your advantage.

Pauline Narvas:

Yeah, no, no, you what everything is said that spot on. I just wanted to say that like it was really nice to see you go from the first few sessions of the Python course where you are like running around the room like oh, no, I don't know how to solve this windows pifa windows problem. And then to the end, when I was just about to leave, you were like, Oh, yeah, I would be like, oh, Darrin knows how to fix this go on third. It was great. So I prefer like learning growth. And

Darren Vong:

also I want to throw in a disclaimer in case you keep the reference when I say react for those hardcore react, people. I didn't mean to say use hawks as in higher order components. That's the old pattern of doing things. But it's just got stuck in my head because there's some still some of my work so yes, don't shoot down at me. I do no react.

Emma Martin:

I think that's like the most important thing that I always say to my students as well is like every time I take a cohort, I'll be asked a different question that I've never been asked before. And I think it took I remember like, you obviously for the database, half to build your own database on some of my students were very stressed because it was like over four weeks out, it was two nights a week it was a lot of work. And these are all career switchers. So the people who have responsibilities have, you know, have a Their job have children. So I remember, just we decided we were like, okay, we'll just do like a session where you can come in, and you can just troubleshoot for like two hours. It'll be really, really, like, just really relaxed, you can come in with your issues, and we'll do it together. And they were saying on that I was coding along with them. And like, I had to Google syntax for stuff. And they were like, Oh, do you not just like, know how to like, just code off the top of your head. And I'm like, you forget things. I was like, we're not human. Like, we're not absolute robots. And superheroes. Here. I was, like, you just understand, like, what you have to do, like, I know, we're not gonna ask that you need an inner join, I might need to just recap on the exact syntax. But that's okay to do. And I think once I had an experience like that, they were all like, Oh, I was just so focused on like, learning all the syntax. And I was like, that's not the point of it. It's understanding like the concepts understanding, like what you need to use, but none of us are perfect. I think it's like, I loved what Darren said, just around. You know, what I mean, being actually like, kind of like entry level or not like senior level teaching, is like really important, because you do like having to break things down in a clear and concise way that you would just forget, like, when you get to senior level, you just do it. And you see it doesn't work as well, sometimes you pair up with someone, and they're just a way of doing it. And you're like, I don't know what you're doing. I am so confused. So I think like you do have that advantage where you can kind of strip things back, understand the pain points, someone who's struggling would understand. And I also say a lot of the time some things will click really quickly when you're an instructor and when you're instructing but also for your students just to remember that some things will click for them, they might understand one concept really well, and struggle with the next. So it's trying to get them like really comfortable in ease with kind of what the journey of like learning to code is, like, there's some things that you learn instantly, there's some things that will take you months just before you kind of fully understand it. But that's all okay. And it's making them understand at students that, you know, you're not just going to be a superhero, everything's not just going to click for you. And if it doesn't click that that's like such a bad thing. You shouldn't be in this industry, that is not it. Some things and work ticks me, you know, like a few weeks to fully get your head round. And then when it does, you're like, Oh, I actually do understand that. So doesn't mean that you're not suitable to be in this career, it doesn't mean that you're not suitable to be teaching. Just throw yourself into things that you love, and you'll find that you will grow. And as Darren said, like, the first time you teach for the first time, you'll learn a lot. And then I feel like I'm really comfortable. I'm kind of streamlined. And I knew that like, I will always still ask for feedback. Because even though I've done this for a year, I still have things to learn on, I still have things to progress myself and teaching on to become better on it's understanding what other people need as well. And you find that the more you teach that you understand what kind of things virtually as well that you need to like, change off. I was like, not get into the swing of only teach and like one certain way, it's trying to better yourself as well, depending on who you're teaching, I have, I would usually only have taught seven people, I'm not teaching 26 this time, so I have to like completely TNT, I would present on content to be able to like be able to troubleshoot 26 people if something goes wrong with my assistance. So until I was trying to better yourself, and it's okay, about a year later, I have to change, maybe Hi, I would have felt comfortable teaching. That's how you learn. And that's how you grow. And that's how you continue to be a good instructor.

Pauline Narvas:

Yeah, no, everything is said that it's a spot on, I think what you said around like, you know, showing your students that you're actually googling things, and that you're actually like, going through that process makes them feel a lot less like, Oh, I need to know everything. And that's fantastic. But you know, you've had that experience. Yeah, I mean, I remember when I used to be teaching the front end course I used to type in, like, how do you create a table in HTML, because tables just don't stick in my head that I've been doing. I've been using it for years. So every single time I have to Google how to create a table HTML, I'm like, you know, students have seen it. And they've been like, Oh, okay. So no, that was all fantastic, you know, experiences shared by all of you around paying it forward through teaching. And now I just want to move on to mentoring because I think another aspect that we've all sort of touched on before is we've been a mentor or even a mentee at some point in our lives. And it's been really nice that we can always we can also pay forward in that sense. So how do you approach mentor rank when someone asks to be mentored by you? Like, what are the steps that you've taken to make sure that it's the best possible opportunity for them? And how can you sort of make them How can people make the most out of that mentorship? opportunity? Because I know, like, a lot of people when you talk about mentor and they're like, Yes, I want a mentor, but they don't really understand what they want from them. They sort of sometimes just want someone to listen to them, and that's fine as well. But it's a lot better when there's more of a streamlined approach. And so I'll go to you first Dara. They want to share sort of like your tips and tricks around like being a mentor.

Darren Vong:

Um, I feel that because I've not really ever had an official mentee so to speak, they've all been like through sort of semi informal formats, through things that doing gophers girls, or even cobar. I've got involved in the online format for a while. Still want to get back to it, actually. So this is probably going to sound more generic, and hopefully Kim and her can add to it. But I would say the first thing would be find out something about the person you're mentoring, like what they want to achieve, what they want to get out the session. Is it about career coaching, like get helping them getting a job? Or do they want more technical help, like, Oh, I don't really understand x concept in SQL or react, whatever that might be. And then from there, I guess, you set out some kind of plans and expectations on how to help them achieve that goals, I guess for more technical stuff will be could be just be like a case of you suggest them during the course. And then every week, you have a check in point with them and see how they get on and give provide as an opportunity for them to ask you questions about technical things. So then that's probably how I would go about doing that. And probably quite similar, I would say, for people who want more like career specific mentoring, just whenever they're preparing their CV or just before an interview, maybe have a touch point. So he has some kind of schedule and expectation. I think maybe as well like setting expectation that is doesn't have to be like a permanent thing as well. Because I think that the handoff point of when you're like, Okay, I no longer want to mentor you or need to be mentored by you by either direction. I feel like that always feel like a bit of an awkward conversation when it doesn't have to be it's not like, I mean, it does feel like a breakup maybe in some way. But it doesn't have to be right. Like you can still keep in touch with friends. But maybe when you get to that point, it just means that you're not getting values out from each other. So I think like, is setting those expectations. Oh,

Pauline Narvas:

that's that is like spot on. I think like, I think a lot of people may go into a mentor mentor ships, and they're like, Oh, yeah, I definitely want this, but they don't know what they want. And they don't set their expectations. And sometimes it can be disappointing on both sides. So yeah, definitely. Set set those expectations, and also the expectation of when what happens when you feel like you've got enough from them. Like you said, it doesn't have to be awkward, you just have to be honest. That's it. That's That's the rule of life. Um, Kim, is there anything you'd like to add to that?

Kim Diep:

I really agree with what David mentioned, it's definitely a two way process. And part of being a mentor is also taking care of yourself and making sure that you have the capacity to be able to mentor people. Because if you are mentoring too many people, the mentees might not your mentees might not get the full benefit of you. So I'm thinking momentum in around 10 to 12 people at the moment, and we meet on a monthly basis. So in terms of the mentorship, I will have like an initial call just to set the scene and ask whether it will be like a one off mentoring or whether it's a long term mentoring, and again, very casual, very open, it's more of a chat rarely, because you're mentoring each other. It's not this idea of having a mentor is like a teacher student relationships. It's a two way process. And in the first session, it's about discovering what people's mission is their values. So I always get my mentees to write down a couple of key nouns or key words for what they feel passionate about. So it can be something non tech related as well, because a lot of my mentees come and they're thinking, How do I get a job in tech? Or how do I become like a tech influence, how to market myself authentically in tech without going crazy, you know, and I always tell them, take a step back. Think about what your values are, because your values will carry you throughout the rest of your life, regardless of the industry that you're working in. And regardless of the role that you're in, and from your values. We'll work together to create a mission statement. And the mission statement is something that you can change over time and evolve along with your life. It's not like a stamp that you have to have to carry on and be like that's you for the rest of your life. You planted for life now. And it's similar to how a company works. They have a series of values and mission statements and and that underpins what I do. And also lets me know when to say no to things or when to say actually am not the right mentor for you. How about this person? And I've been getting better at just saying no, and saying, look, let's have an initial chat, if, if I'm not suited to you, or you're feeling like you might need to learn something, then I'll introduce you to someone else. And what I have is I have a spreadsheet for my mentees, where we go through a three month program, of what the three month program is, we set one goal for those three months. And then we have like a reflection sheet. So what went well, what didn't go so well. And then I feel awesome section. And the reason why it's three months is because things move quickly. Things are unpredictable. And it's no point setting concrete goals too far into the future, because it doesn't give you a lot of flexibility. But it's good to have like dream goals like a year goal or something to aim for. But having a three month horizon makes it feel a little bit more tangible. So we go and review that every month. And then some of my mentees are going to be attending my first staff, I am remarkable workshop as well in the hope that they'll become an I am remarkable facilitator and it's a Google initiative to essentially help people in terms of their confidence for self promotion, and be able to create wonderful communities for those who are underrepresented, essentially, in various industries, not just technology. So yeah, it's a it's a two way thing. And when you have to say let's put things on pause, because my life's going a bit crazy right now then, that you should be open to that at the outset. So at the moment, I've actually put things on pause of my mentees temporarily while I'm getting stuck in So my role and that's fine. So it's Take care of yourself as a mentor. And in terms of being a mentee, you can mentor the mentee. So there's no hierarchy. So you as a mentee, you can become a mentor in the future. And a lot of people ask me, How do I get involved in mentorship? Co first goals is one avenue code bar. Again, this is another great avenue. And you can also go in depth to or go on Twitter, and see if anyone needs help. You can also mentor by sending a message to someone to make make them feel you know, okay, because you'll see a lot of people with bad mental health now because of COVID. So just reach out to people be like, Are you okay, do you want to chat to one a DM me? And let's have a have a chat. So yeah, that's a very long winded answer to the question.

Pauline Narvas:

Everything is subjective. I'm just I, the only thing I got from those like message came to be my mentor. That's all I got from.

Darren Vong:

Yeah, Mr. Kim, for chat, when you're feeling low.

Kim Diep:

I need to clone myself, honestly, I need to clone myself. Because I've had to, unfortunately, say no to people, some people have offered to even pay for mentorship. And I literally said, Look, I can't take this on at the moment, because I need to be focused on very few things in my life to have a good work life balance to be able to do things well. And I'd like to keep it that way. So at the moment, you know, I'm not open to any men sees at the moment. But do check out my Twitter website to see in the future if I do, you know, have some spaces.

Pauline Narvas:

I love how you touched on being a mentor and focusing on also your mental health and your capacity because like you said, You can't be a effective mentor when you're taking too much. And then you have that sort of your your mind is clouded with so many different things. You can't really focus on the mentee on that and their needs. So yeah, no fantastic advice. But how about you, Emma?

Emma Martin:

Yeah, so my process are kind of quite similar to Kim's but not on arraylists canvas to amend. But I think the first thing I have, what I always do is also tell them a lot about me. And kind of where I'm looking to go as well on a lot like him is just it's through saying what I'm doing and trying to understand what they are looking to do. It's to kind of see whether we are good fit. And I think that's really important. I think making sure that you are the best person to speak to is the only way that you're going to have an effective mentorship relationship. And if it's not me, then it's usually someone else that I know or Someone else that I can pass them on to not so that you're just kind of like by no one, it's kind of nice to be able to pass them on to kind of someone else that you're like this is literally the person that you should speak to who will get you. You know, like to that point. It's definitely a two way street. I've learned so much from my mentees as well. And I think it's just trying to understand where they're going and where they would like to go. Because I think I'm setting realistic goals as well, because goals are so different in other companies in the sense of if someone's saying, I want to work for a big company, and I want to get to senior, that's going to be a lot different to kind of aware together than working in a startup and trying to get to senior. So it's trying to understand like where they actually want to work in the industry, do the whatever technologies do they want to work for, you know, obviously, if you're looking at bigger companies, sometimes there's legacy code, which I would work on some times and different things. So there might be you might be more suited to kind of a startup or they're really like looking at kind of what technologies and new technologies that they could use. So it's just trying to understand where they actually want to go, what they're interested in, I think what Kim said destroy like their values is really important. And I think that's something that probably we all have, is kind of our values that we hold type to. And that kind of helps us make decisions. And I think sometimes all someone wants to do whenever they're trying to get into tack or trying to make their big move is just to have someone to kind of vent to and to talk to. But I think a lot of stuff as well as understanding that your mentorship relationship, if after kind of a few months, you feel like you've gotten through maybe it was helped with a project or it was helped with kind of confidence in where to kind of go next and kind of get into tech, it doesn't have to then be kind of this big strange relationship I made off with a lot of people I previously mentored just for like a coffee for a half an hour every month, that's more of a catch up as well, because you realize that you actually have a lot in common. It's quite nice, especially as Darren said, if there's a lot of females in tech, a lot of people I mentor are females. So it's nice to just meet more people and just for a really casual catch up. And just to check if there's anything else that I can't give them advice on or just to chat to. But I think mental health is almost like a really, really important topic. And I think what Kim said, I went into one or two mentoring relationships were, you know, I had a lot of personal stuff going on at home. And I probably shouldn't have, but I think we are the type of personalities of people who pay it forward. And even you're gonna feel guilt to say, No, I think that's a really, really difficult thing, and I've had to learn is just saying no, doesn't mean that I'm this like a horrible person, it just means, you know, I'm trying to also progress my career out if I can't give you the full capacity of my mentorships. And there's just, it's not gonna end well. And I remember, this was all happening on that I went in for work. That was the 1121 ever I've had in work where I said myself, I feel like I haven't grown as much. And I've never had a situation like that. So I feel like you also need to prioritize your own growth. Because I think getting involved in all of these things outside of work, you don't want to burn yourself out and then feel like you're not actually progressing. So I think mentorship is such a positive thing. I absolutely love it. And I feel like you get so much out of it from being a mentor or a mentee. And I've seen both sides. And I think you make amazing relationships on I wouldn't be where I am today without the mentors I've had. So I love paying it forward and meeting new people and helping them right. But I think it's also important to, as Kim said, Put yourself forward as well, you're the number one person here you can't burn yourself out. And you want to be somewhere that someday you have your own goals. So as long as you feel that you're not overwhelmed, and that you can still do everything. Don't feel afraid to take a step back for a month for two months focus in your career. And then you will find that you're actually really motivated on want to come back and do more as well. So just don't worry, just do curl by yourself was my number one thing and prioritize yourself as well.

Pauline Narvas:

I think what you mentioned about like, just taking care of yourself. And prioritizing you is really important because I've got to a stage before where I'm like, Oh, I really, I did a lot of things I was teaching, I was mentoring, I was like doing two different jobs and all sorts of different things. And it got to a point where I really burnt myself out. And so when people asked me for help, I just couldn't give them that like not that high quality that I wanted to give them in terms of mentorship or just general help. So yeah, definitely prioritize yourself. That's a really, that's a really important take home message from this. And finally, we're almost at the end of our episode has gone by so quickly, but I wanted to end on such a positive note. And, you know, we've talked a lot about how important it is to pay it forward and how we wouldn't be who we are today without the mentors and the people who have paid it forward for us. So I'll just go around the group and I'd like you all to tell me about a mentor that has changed your life for the better. Darrin, I'll go with you.

Darren Vong:

So I think like the previous question, I've not really like especially our mental so to speak but but then when I think about it more broadly people around Do you at work? Like in your team? Like? They are like your mentor in some ways? So I think the one shout I would say is probably for my current team leads last manager anastasiya. Who's she's just been great recently, I think for this past year, whenever I have any sort of thoughts or questions about like, how do I approach certain things? It's been really helpful to just be able to chat with her and one to ones to find out our plan of attack on how to go about approaching things in ticket further from there. So yeah, shout out to my manager. Oh,

Pauline Narvas:

right, Kim, how about you?

Kim Diep:

I've got a few people that are sort of my friends that I've only met this past year. It's kind of weird because we set up like a tech skills workshops crew, where we've been doing workshops for code bar, and for sort of various events. But Shannon zaba Katie boosh, for Hashanah. They've been amazing on getting through getting me through this whole, you know, past year, remote working in general. And I think it's just nice, because they all work in tech in some form. And so instead of it being the case that hey, let's build workshops, sometimes it's just sort of just meet up for chat. They're like, Oh, I've had luck, a long day at work. I'm so tired. And they give the best advice ever. So a bit of a shout out to them. Really. Yes. Great crew are we're still building workshops. So the community I think our next one is a git version control workshop at some point with code bar. So keep your eyes peeled for that one.

Pauline Narvas:

Oh, exciting. We'll definitely. We'll definitely put that on the show notes and stuff. But yeah, thank you so much. How about you?

Emma Martin:

Yeah, so I have an absolutely amazing mentor, who I was very lucky to meet last year. Her name is Joan. She is just she was someone who had shared on LinkedIn that she wanted to mentor. And I was like, I am jumping on that because she was really heavily involved in the Bowflex community, and she's a software engineer and monitor. And she has always said technical, which is what I wanted to do. So I was like, your army isn't but she is just always there. If I ever feel overwhelmed if I ever just need someone to chat to and I think it's also important if someone outside of your work to like shelter, just to be able, but she is a kick ass mom in tech, she has like a, she has a family she is just an amazing supporter she does she is so she develops others that you discouraged so much about other people. And I would not be where I am today with like this woman, she's just absolutely incredible. And I every time I talk to her, I just feel so much more motivated, so much more better. I'm just it's nice to have someone who you just know was always our, even if it's not like really frequently, it's just at a time that I messaged her, and I'm like, I need advice. And she will always check in as well. And she's like, my number one supporter, if I ever showed news on She is like the one person there's always like, go for that opportunity. Like, she was the one who whenever I said I wanted to teach, she was like, go do it. So I've a lot of like this woman on and then obviously cuz I'm technically cheating on obviously, your manager and work, my manager is extremely great, and is doing as much as he can to help push me towards being more independent and grow technically, and not come out of engineering because of something that I want to do. And I want to continue to code and you can do that. As a woman, someone who wants to have a family someday. And at the level we're all off. So it's just nice to have two kinds of cheerleaders who always help me I feel like cry,

Pauline Narvas:

I feel. Well, thank you. Thank you all for sharing that. Yeah, I'm so emotional. I think I'll quickly just thank a few of my mentors. But I think I have a long list I could talk about I actually wrote a blog post about some of the people that I've really changed my life for the better. But the one that really like comes to mind is Mark Chamberlain, he might feel really embarrassed that I you know, call them out on a podcast, but he was my rotation manager as part of my bt grad scheme. In my third rotation, he welcomed me with just open arms into the DevOps and the cloud world. And I just prior to that, I have no like cloud or DevOps or SRV experience at all. And I you know, I really sucked my first few weeks in the rotation because I have no idea what I was doing. But Mark gave me the confidence to like to, to just like, you know, be that imposter syndrome. I gave me the confidence to learn and he did one on ones with me to help teach me all these different technical like concepts and Now I'm where I am today as a DevOps engineer, because of him, because he gave me the confidence. He told me that I can't do it. I can be as fluent with like DevOps tools and stuff like that as as much as I am with the front end technologies that I'm quite used to and comfortable with. He's just great for you like crying again. But yeah, he's a fantastic mentor. And I really genuinely thank him for the path that I've taken on now. And yeah, that's, that's the episode everyone. It's, it's so nice to chat with all of you. And I'll share your social media, and anything else you want me to promote on in the show notes on my podcast. And yeah, just thank you so much for sharing all your wisdom. I think right now my biggest learning is And that is it for this episode. If you want to continue our I want to go back out there, pay it forward some more where I conversation on this topic, let's do it. You can find me on social media on twitter at paulienuh on Instagram at can, because I've sort of taken a step back over the last few paw.lean and on my blog pawlean.com. If you found that episode insightful consider supporting me you can do so over years, but I want to get back in there and help out where I can on my support page where you can share my content, buy me a burrito, send me Bitcoin, use my affiliate links and more! Check because it's doing amazing things for our communities, but it out at pawlean.com/support-me. Thanks again for listening, sending you all happy, healthy positive also for the tech industry. And that's fantastic! vibes as always, and I'll see you in the next one. Bye!