Kim Crayton Clojure/conj 2016 Interview

Kim Crayton will be giving a talk at Clojure/conj 2016. Kim is a business strategy consultant specializing in technology.

Follow her on Twitter and GitHub and visit her LinkedIn Profile. How did you get into programming?

Kim Crayton: In October of 2014, shortly after the death of my father, I decided to enter the "tech" space. At the time, I really had no idea what that meant except that I had just gone through my worst fear, caring for a dying parent, and I wasn't afraid to explore what was possible. I spent about 6 months just going to conferences and Meetups to figure out what this tech thing was and it wasn't long before I realized that in order to really understand, I had to learn to speak the language. I had no plan. I didn't really think I needed one because everywhere I looked, I kept hearing how easy learning to program would be. It was a series of courses that led me down one rabbit hole after another. Take this course, take that course, and soon you would be making $70k+. It was all a lie. What is your talk about?


  1. Understanding that successful mentoring doesn't just happen, it's planned.
  2. Understanding that there is a difference between personal/professional mentoring and youth/adult mentoring.
  3. A clarification of what mentoring is not.
  4. An explanation of what mentoring is.
  5. A review of factors for effective mentoring for both mentor and mentee.
  6. Reasons the development community could benefit from a planned mentoring approach. What do you hope people will take away from the talk?

KC: Learning to code is like what I imagine the Wild West was like...anything goes. With no defined path to job readiness, mentoring should be an option for aspiring programmers who desire it. Learning to code is hard. And it's even harder without the guidance of someone who knows what they are doing. We wouldn't expect our doctor, lawyer or police officer for that matter to be any good without proper training and mentoring. Yet people enter the programming field everyday in an effort to learn the skills that will allow them to fill the many open positions and very few have had the support of a mentor helping them along the way. Can we all be mentors?

KC: Mentoring can be a rewarding undertaking but not everyone is cut out to be a mentor. The learning process, for anyone, is complicated and makes the learner vulnerable. Just because you know how to do something well doesn't mean that you are capable of helping someone else acquire those same skills. Mentoring is all about relationship, empathy, and discomfort. Individuals who are not able to manage the learning process with care are likely to do more harm than good related to learners' psyche and overall well-being. How much time does it take to mentor someone?

KC: Since mentoring is all about relationship, it requires a commitment of time on behalf of all involved. But as my presentation points out, planning and agreed upon expectations are the key. As many of us have experienced, our best relationships are those that we cultivate and tend to. There is no difference with the mentoring relationship. It takes time to get comfortable enough with one another so that trust and mutual respect are established which are essential in order to give and receive honest feedback. What concepts do you recommend people be familiar with to maximize their experience with the talk?

KC: No previous knowledge needed, just a desire to guide and nurture those individuals entering the development community. What resources are available for people who want to study up before the talk?

KC: I post a daily #MentoringMinute on social media and I blog infrequently. :)

Recent JavaScriptAir episode:

Stop Lying To Newbies: g-newbies/ Where can people follow you online?

KC: Are there any projects you'd like people to be aware of? How can people help out?

KC: Promote Jr. Dev. Mentoring. I want to become a "go to" resource for anyone wanting to prepare themselves for a junior developer position. To that end, I need programmers to sign up as mentors on the website. I've also recently added an internship section to the website because I've realized that although there are many opportunities available, many are only known through word of mouth. So I would love for people to post any internships there as well. Where do you see the state of programming mentoring in 10 years?

KC: We often hear about the lack of qualified individuals to fill the many unfilled current and future programming roles, it is my hope that mentoring becomes a part of the "learning to code journey". If mentoring were a superhero, what superpower would it have?

KC: Empathy. It takes a great deal of empathy, for the mentee and mentor alike, to be an effective mentor. Learning takes time. It can't be rushed, no matter how mush effort is exerted. There will be many moments that will challenge the process and cause those involved to be uncomfortable. Empathy allows everyone to remain calm and kind. Thank you for the interview!