How do I help a software engineer student be better at developing software?

Background: I have this friend that started university with my young brother, two-or-so years ago my brother finished the career and got his degree while she is still there trying to finish the same career (!), we were looking the chance of changing careers but due to her low grades this is not possible and according to her U's counselor is better that she just finishes the career and gets her degree.

We scheduled a Zoom meeting for Sunday next week, to talk about her pain-points and see what improvement we can chase; issue is that I've never mentored anyone ever in my professional life (my brother from time to time drops a question to me or so, but that's different).

My plan is to either see if she suffers from lack of practice (meaning: she does not write software more often in order to improve her skills) or if it's hard for her to think in abstracts, either way, I believe that the latter improves if you do the former (just correct me if I'm wrong), thus the plan would be to assign her a bunch of programming exercises and have meetings at least once a week during her vacations.

My plan would be for her to actually learn game development with Godot, since the final result is always a game my hope is that having something to show encourages her to do the thing, but, who knows.

Have you ever done something like this for someone with the same issues? What was your experience and what nuggets of knowledge can you lend me?

P.S.: We don't live in the States but in Costa Rica, she does not have to deal with crippling student loans.

  • 1
    I wish I had something that could help, but paragraph 4.... I fear those traits seriously conflict with learning about coding and growing as a developer.
  • 1
    @N00bPancakes maybe you mean paragraph 4
  • 1
    @catholic-emacs doh!

    I'm.... counting in array... yeah that's it...
  • 1
    Are you sure she is interested in game?

    I occasionally have to mentor and it is not easy. For the first meeting I am sure she is nervous to meet with you since you are supposedly to be her "mentor" due to her failing grade. She will be nervous even if she already know you since now there is now a "role" so break an ice to ease her tension.

    Ask your brother basic information about his friend, what she like to do and so on. For a first half of a meeting

    1) Talk about random thing

    2) Talk about her interest (what you got from your brother)

    3) Talk about your time in university.

    The above 3 thing usually ease their tension now here come the bombs.

    4) Talk about random thing about her university life (professor, cafeteria) and so on

    5) Talk about her class

    when she is talking about her class , notice her speak pattern (if you can) so you can determine what subject make her nervous which give you clue on what to focus on.
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    Insert a joke about programming thing like "Why did array start at 0 and so on." and thing like they always use "i" and "j" in for loop.

    The second question about "i" and "j" is to know if she pay attention to know whether it a common pattern or not.

    Just be sincere and be helpful (people can pick up on those more than you thin) , and your goal for your first meeting is to let her know that

    "You are not an asshole programmer that she should be nervous/afraid around and that you are a person that is willing to help her."

    I hope my advise help you. Come back for help if you need more advise. I am sure a lot of people at devrant is happy to help you despite the name of the community.
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    My 2 cents... This could be more an emotional block, perhaps things don't come as easy to her as to her peers, and that makes her feel mediocre and after failing for a while and having to see others succeed seemingly seamlessly, could be doing some damage to her confidence. I would advise, some reinforcement, and explaining things to her, even if you feel she should already know it. Explain to her how you get to solutions, your tain of thought to a solution, perhaps her approach is off, and she could use a different perspective. It's good for her to see this through, and she shouldn't feel like she cannot do these things, programming and being a good programmer is something that can be learned (unless you are a prodige). Perhaps she just needs someone to pair program with her and emcourage her and explain their thoughts to her, and just give her a confidence boost. Leaving her to code alone might just do more damage, in my limited option and input..
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