I’m Offering Free Coaching for Software Developers in the EA community

by Yonatan Cale5 min read25th Oct 202115 comments

76

Career advisingSoftware engineeringCoaching
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TL;DR: If you think this might be helpful for you, please email me at yonatan.cale@gmail.com, or book a calendly meeting, or meet me at EAG EAGx Prague (here's my swapcard). 

[Adding more contact options: Here's my Telegram, which is a great option for me, especially if you're happy getting voice messages. I also have Whatsapp and Signal, feel free to ask for my phone number, I just don't want to post it publicly. Async messages seem to work amazingly with some people, while others prefer video, and some do both. I leave the choice up to you, and you can always change your mind. Ok, back to the post]

[Update: 1 month later]

I’m offering help with:

  • Improving technical skills.
  • Career development (including earning more and working at better positions).
  • [Adding] Software aspects of early stage startups (this is especially aimed at founders. I hardly wrote about this in the original post, but I'm adding this bullet).

Why do I think I’ll be useful?

These are conversations I’ve been doing with friends for years.

Some results that I [conservatively] think I helped happen at least one year earlier:

  • One raised their salary by over 100% in under 2 years.
  • One got an entry level position as a developer (they were an analyst).
  • One learned Fullstack and got accepted as a 1st employee in a funded startup.

Remember - these are cherry picked. Sometimes I talk to people and don’t help at all. But also note that I haven’t included hard-to-quantify results, such as helping someone get a better understanding of what they’re looking for, or turning something hard into something easy.

I’m currently mentoring two EA devs from Israel.

I’m getting a lot of positive feedback (you can ask them questions in the comments).

One got accepted to a relatively positive company (given the limited options here) that also fits many other parameters she was looking for in a job (some of the parameters were unclear to her before we spoke). We are not sure what the counterfactual is of course.

Should you contact me?

What kinds of problems do I think I’ll be useful with?

Tech Leadership (CTOs and similar)

  • “They gave me a product description, what architecture should I build for it?”
  • General helpless / too many fires to put out (it's not just you!)

New technologies

  • “There are so many things to do/learn, where to start?”
  • “How many questions to ask my colleagues?”
  • “How to approach learning about [technology X]?”
  • “How to handle a huge existing code base?”
  • “I’m not a professional software developer but I do use code at work, how can I get it to cooperate with me?”

Motivation / Psychology

  • “How can I enjoy software development more?”
  • “Am I good enough?”
  • “How can I enjoy interviews more?”

Career planning / Changing jobs

  • “Should I change jobs?”
  • “How much money to ask for?”
  • “How to improve my CV?”
  • “How to aim for X longterm?”
  • “Where do I want to aim?”

What will the mentoring look like?

  • I’m offering long term mentoring where the first meeting will be over video, and most other communication will be with async text or voice messages.
  • No commitment, we can stop anytime.
  • I’m very informal. All my shirts have cats on them, such as:

 

My professional experience

See linkedin. TL;DR: I’ve been a professional developer for 14+ years. 

I just left my last job hoping to work on an EA project, and this is one of the things I'm trying out.

Things I’m unsure about

Culture gaps

Different cultures give feedback / use social queues differently. These are usually conversations I've had with my friends and I'm only starting off with helping people who I’ve never met. 

You’ll be helping me too as I make my first steps here.

How to measure myself?

The feedback cycle for improving someone’s career is pretty long, and many mentees will say they’re satisfied even if the mentor doesn’t provide much value.

To deal with this, I try asking for pretty detailed feedback, such as “what changed before and after the conversation”, as well as more “objective” metrics, such as salary increases.

How much will this help EA?

Reasons I think it would help:

  • Software developers would have more money to donate and better skills to apply in the future.
  • Some developers may move to EA orgs (though I won’t focus on this).
  • Maybe: Developers working in EA orgs could use more mentoring and support.

The main counter argument I see is that this is a very indirect intervention, so perhaps the bottom-line impact will be low.

Why do I think this is neglected?

I think that monetizing developer-mentoring is pretty hard, so the market mostly isn’t handling it. The main exception I see is mentoring within a company, though that still often leaves some topics undiscussed, such as when to look for a better job.

How can you help?

  • Refer developers to me. Also, I’m posting this before EAG on purpose - this is an attempt at getting people to talk to me about things I care about - so feel free to book a time with me there as well!
  • Contacts in software industries outside of Israel. I expect to have questions like “what does it take to get accepted to one's first job there?” or “how should people look for a good company to work for in your location? (Is there a specific job board? Something else?)”
  • Do you regularly mentor EAs? I’d be happy for insights, if you have any.
  • Perhaps naming this project? I thought of contacting Naming What We Can ;)

I’m approaching this project like an early stage startup: I prefer launching fast and get ting feedback rather than trying to plan everything in advance. At the same time, any suggestions are welcome.

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15 comments, sorted by Highlighting new comments since Today at 5:06 AM
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I've been a programmer for 20 years now, and I started the mentoring with Yonatan completly by chance, two months ago. It was eye opening - I was shocked to find out my real options for promotion, salary,  and even effective-altruistic related jobs with better terms than my comfortable current job.
He had helped me a lot in other areas as well, and gave me tools to widen up my perspective and increase my certainty of things I assumed I already know, but didn't.
Yonatan express himself in exact and direct way, with purpose and pre-thought, and he is paying full attention to me, my current state and ambitions.
This mentoring was a true life changing experience for me (for the better) and my only wish is that I had found him sooner.
 

Thank you <3
I'd like to add that Ori was the CTO of a bootstrapped startup that made ~$350,000 in the 1st month

As someone who received a lot of super helpful advice and insights from @hibukki, I think this kind of offer is priceless for one's career and skills in the software engineering field.
@hibukki might say it's different because we're very close, but to be honest I think it's harder to give professional advice to a close one than to someone you're not biased about or protective of.

I'm the CTO of a ~40 employees startup that aims to solve a big healthcare issue, and generally an very experienced engineer.
An hour with @hibukki is one of the best things I can do to improve my daily work.

Last but not least - I suggest the name Cheshire Cat Mentoring 😸

Context: CBelle is my girlfriend, and she believes I am a cat. She is correct.

This is nice of you to offer.  Could I or others refer EAs who are still taking their undergraduate degree, but are interested in and/or working towards a career in software development? 

I know ~3 Filipinos interested in EA who are 3rd year or 4th year university students, and might want to have a call (or more than one, i.e. a monthly mentoring call) with someone who could give them some advice or mentorship about software engineering.

Hey,

TL;DR: Feel free to contact me

The main thing that would help me estimate how much I can help would be 2-3 examples of actual questions you'd ask if we'd talk today

✅ Great initiative
✅ Thank you for a nice structure to your post, answering lots of questions I expect people would have.
✅ I think you're making sense launching and seeing what comes of the project. 

Posted in EA Sweden programmer Slack and suggested it directly to a few programmers. Hope you will all find it fruitful, best of luck!

I'm Nitsan, a Software Engineer with 5 years of experience serving in the intelligence force (8200 unit), and one of Yonatan’s mentees from EA Israel. 

I truly cannot recommend him highly enough!

I met Yonatan when I was preparing for my first real Job-search as a software engineer. I wanted to find an impactful job, but I didn’t know how (and if) to take this into account so early in my career, while having many other professional requirements. Yonatan had an amazing ability to guide me into developing my own tools and methods to deal with my questions and doubts, instead of giving me answers. Besides the technical guidance Yonatan gave me, I honestly feel like my decision-making process has significantly improved thanks to him, and that the methods we developed helped me get the job I wanted (and more importantly - helped figure out what it is that I want :)

Yonatan is incredibly smart and experienced, and his unique way of thinking and vast expertise (he really knows pretty much everything), really helps me see with clarity, understand from a broader perspective, and focus on the right things .

Anyone, with any level of experience, would be lucky to go through this journey with him.

Feel free to contact me (In the comments or in private) if you have any doubts or questions!

I love this idea! If you haven't yet, please connect with Devon Fritz of High Impact Professionals -- this seems like a really good fit with what they are building!!

Thanks for doing this! I organize the nascent EA Public Interest Technologists Slack space - I encourage you to connect with us!

Yay, thank you <3 I joined

There's also a Software Engineers in Effective Altruism Slack for those interested in private, for-profit, EA-aligned startups and other areas not covered by the incredibly awesome EA Public Interest Technologists Slack space. You can join both!!

I founded a startup where scaling issues keep appearing as we grow the company. Yonathan has helped me identify what my main pain points are and what next steps I should take. Also, he’s really good at listening. 

I think Yonatan's initiative is really useful for anyone who has a company and wants to improve their software skills while tackling real-world problems.

Adding: Richard is the CTO 

And thanks!