Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Chicago Python User Group Mentorship Program


If you stay in Chicago, have some interest in programming - you must have heard about the Chicago Python Users Group or Chipy. Founded by Brian Ray, it is one of the oldest tech group in the city and is a vibrant community that welcomes programmers of all skill levels. We meet on the second Thursday of every month at a new venue with some awesome talks, great food and a lot of enthusiasm about our favorite programming language. Other than talks on various language features and libraries, we have had language shootouts (putting Python on the line with other languages), programming puzzle night etc.




Chipy meetups are great to learn about new things and meet a lot of very smart people. Beginning this October, we are doing a one on one, three month mentorship program. Its completely free, and totally driven by the community. By building this one to one relationships through the mentorship program, we are trying to build a stronger community of Pythonistas in Chicago.

We have kept it open on how the M&M pairs want to interact, but as an overall goal we wanted the mentors to help the mentees with the following:


1. Selection of a list of topics that is doable in this time frame (October 2014 - January 2014)
2. Help the mentee with resources (pair programming, tools, articles, books etc) when they are stuck
3. Encourage the mentee to do more hands on coding and share their work publicly


It has been really amazing to see the level of enthusiasm among the M&M-s. I have been fortunate to play the role of a match maker - where I look into the background, level of expertise, topics of interests and availability for all M&M-s and try to find out an ideal pair. I’ve been collecting data at every juncture so that we can improve the program in later iterations.


Here are some aggregated data points till now:


Signups
# of mentors signed up: 15
# of mentees new to programming: 2
# of mentees new to Python: 16
# of mentee-s Advanced Python: 5
Total: 37


Assignment:
# of mentors with a mentee: 13
# of mentees new to programming with an assigned mentor:1
# of mentees new to Python with an assigned mentor:11
# of mentees with Advanced Python with an assigned mentor:1


Outstanding:
# of mentors for newbie mentees without an assignment: 2
# of mentees unreachable: 4
# of mentees new to programming without an assigned mentor:1 (unreachable)
# of mentees new to Python without an assigned mentor:2 (unreachable)
# of mentees with Advanced Python without an assigned mentor:4 (1 unreachable, 3 no advanced mentors)


Other points:
- Data analysis is the most common area of interest.
- # of female developers: 6
- # of students: 2 (1 high-school, 1 grad student)


All M&M pairs are currently busy figuring out what they want to achieve in the next three months and preparing a schedule. Advanced mentees, are forming a focused hack group to peer coach on advanced topics.


We are incredibly grateful to the mentors for their time and the enthusiasm that the mentees have shown for the program. While this year's mentoring program is completely full, if you are interested in getting mentored in Python, check back in December. Similarly, if you want to mentor someone with your Python knowledge, please let me know. If you have any tips you would want to share on mentoring, being a smart mentee - please leave them in the comments - I'll share them with the mentor and mentees. And lastly, any suggestions on what I can do to make the program beneficial for everyone would make me go:




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