Setapp Academy: How mentorship program boosts our soft skills

At Setapp, we care about learning and expanding our expertise. When we came up with an idea for an internship program, we didn’t only think about our future interns’ growth. What was of high importance to us, was that our current employees can work on their leadership skills.

Last time we interviewed Asenata, our intern in the development department. She shared her thoughts on her time at Setapp and what she gained from the Internship Program. This time we want to show you how the internship at Setapp looks from the other side – from the perspective of a mentor. Maciej, our software developer, took a very responsible role of being a mentor to Asenata. Let’s check what this internship meant to him!

Why did you decide to take part in the internship program?

I was looking for some challenges that would differ from my everyday programmer responsibilities and I felt the need to improve my soft skills. Moreover, working with people brings me joy, so when an opportunity presented itself, I was sure that’s the way I want to go. Our HR department suggested that we would be kicking off with the pilot internship program in our company and it coincided with me taking part in coaching sessions in order to guide me through my career path. I decided to give it a try and volunteered. 

Together with HR department, we decided that we would do something that could be beneficial for our intern Asenata and for the company. We didn’t want to develop application that wouldn’t be used and would be just easily forgotten. We decided to go with the absolutely interesting app I cannot share details right now (because it’s still in progress). I knew that joining internship program would allow to be part of the team of worthwhile project.

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How do you feel as a mentor? Did you find out something new about yourself?

It’s a great responsibility to be somebody’s first mentor. At first, I was concerned that I can’t pass knowledge in the right way. It’s tricky to find a balance between what you know and what novice programmer would need to learn. What is more, there is also a matter of what mentee actually expects they would learn and their involvement in whole internship process. 

Asenata is ambitious and she put a lot of pressure on me so she would learn as much as possible. But the fact that she was so much into improving her skills also motivated me more. We created a process that allowed me to divide time between my regular job and mentoring so it would be beneficial for both of us. My heart is filled with joy to see her making progress and becoming a better developer.

What I found out about myself is how much I can commit to whole project process that is not development. I was taking part in designing application, monitoring it’s development progress, delivering it. I felt responsible so Asenata would not only learn during the internship but also she would deliver meaningful, working application. I’ve also ensured that the better somebody’s understanding about the reasons behind the project, the easier it is to develop and be committed into it. I saw Asenata really putting a lot of effort into this and she was more willing to learn after she got to know the purpose of the application.  

I have also experienced how easy it is to get help from other departments, how easy everyone gets involved and wants to have an impact on the app functionalities and look and how all of this can bring more chaos than be helpful when it’s getting out of control. But we managed to work out a solution that was agile and satisfied everybody. 

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What in your opinion can Setapp teach interns?

Many experienced developers work at Setapp and they are a huge knowledge base that could be shared. Many of these programmers could make a great mentor for interns. But that’s not only about programming. In Setapp we have experienced people in various areas for instance design, management, hr. You can come here and profit from people that kindly share their expertise.

When it comes to programming internship, you’ll learn the basics of development. In Setapp we don’t teach you specific programming language but we can guide you which one you could choose. We can show you the best practices of coding, show pros and cons of different solutions, help to find the balance between fast delivery and clean deliberate code. We can show you how to code efficiently in languages we are experts in and give you tips on others.

But we will also show you what modern developer should be aware of – that actual coding is only a part of this job. That it’s great if you not only know what you do but also why you do it. That you can and should have an impact on decisions about which way project is going by taking actively part in design meetings, being close to client. You will see all of it for yourself on the example of how we really work in Setapp.

Would you recommend participating in the program to others?

People think that being a mentor is probably not for everyone but I say you should give it a try. You shouldn’t be forced, don’t do this if you are not interested in putting effort to developing others. But if you’re ready to share your knowledge, with a little help of HR guys you can become real mentor and you would get satisfaction out of helping young programmers.

Same goes about becoming an intern – I would totally recommend it.  Even if you are not experienced but you want to learn, Setapp is the place where you can actually shape your career path and improve a variety of skills from kind and supportive coworkers.

 

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