Many apprentices in this craft are inexperienced and have little knowledge of what’s next in store for them or how to prepare for what’s to come. Luckily, most apprentices, are not the first person to walk down the same path, and there are many people who are experienced and knowledgeable who could provide help and guidance when needed. This apprenticeship pattern is about finding these people and having them mentor you in your journey to becoming a master craftsman.
Mentors can be quite hard to find. It may be easy to locate authors of books on the craft, accomplished conference speakers, committers on popular open-source projects, and developers of successful websites. However, it is difficult to convince them to mentor you. They may not be interested, or they feel intimidated by the request. One should expect rejection as a risk. However, the risk of being rejected by a mentor is fairly low, while the payoff is massive. The key when searching for mentors is to be tenacious and appreciative.
One thing to keep in mind when searching for mentors is that it’s important to understand that mentors are also going through their own journeys towards becoming master craftsmen and that no one person knows everything. It’s tempting to want your mentor to be a master because of their vast and deep knowledge of the craft. However, such temptations should always be resisted. You shouldn’t dismiss mentors by over-focusing on their inevitable weaknesses or blind spots, these mentors still have a lot to offer.
Although this apprenticeship pattern discusses a simple concept, it is extremely important. Finding people to guide you in your journey is invaluable. Mentors can help you make the right decisions for you, they can teach you new techniques, they can give you tips about the craft, and they can give insight into what you can expect. Every apprentice should actively look for mentors and learn as much as they can from them. By the same token, it’s important to realize that just as you are looking for mentorship from people ahead of you, there are also people who are behind you who seek mentorship from you. Being able to pass on your knowledge and experience is one of the ways where an apprentice can begin to transition into a journeyman.