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Mentoring Stories: Software Engineer Jan guided a designer colleague into the basics of frontend development

Published in People

Written by

Jan Nyholm
Senior Software Developer

Jan likes code. He also likes solving problems. Solving problems using code and working as a team is something he likes even more. And dogs! If there can be dogs it's even better!


March 20, 2024 · 4 min read time

I had the pleasure of mentoring user experience designer Liinu Lassila, who was keen to delve into frontend development, as part of Nitor's mentoring program. Witnessing someone else's learning journey while gaining new insights about myself was a joy.

Mentoring is familiar territory for me through my work: I mentor and assist developers from Nitor's client teams almost daily. This has also involved a lot of learning from scratch, so I'm well-acquainted with the path of the learning process. Participating in Nitor's mentoring program piqued my interest as I wanted to get to know my colleagues better. Consulting work often leaves less room for collaborative projects with other Nitoreans.  

Working with Liinu allowed me to revisit the beginning stages of my own learning. It was fun to reminisce about that time while the other person went through things that were once new to me. At its best, it is truly educational from the mentor's perspective and often provides new insights into one's work. I now see the basics clearer yet less simplistic. 

I am not technically skilled by education; I graduated in behavioural sciences. My primary interest lies in how technology serves people, not so much in the technical details. As a user experience designer working closely with developers, I wanted to understand the technical side better.

- Liinu Lassila, Senior Designer, Nitor 

The typical approach to problem-solving for a designer and a programmer can be quite different. We tend to break down the problem into parts and systematically build a functional technical solution. While working with Liinu, I also noticed the designer's thought process resonating within me. It sparked a desire to learn more about what kind of considerations user interface design entails and how the user experience is improved during the development process.

I also learned something new about myself as a person. I've always considered myself somewhat introverted, but I realised that's not quite the case. These experiences always show how enjoyable working with others towards a common goal is. It's rewarding to watch a colleague's growth up close. 

A practical project gently led to the deep end 

Liinu wanted to learn the basics of frontend development, so we worked together on a practice project developing a web page. Since Liinu had no prior programming experience, we kept our goals modest. We started by styling and improving existing design work and adding various functionalities. 

I approached the mentoring process very intuitively and based on a gut feeling. I also had to weigh how we would tackle the challenges Liinu faced so that problem-solving wouldn't consume our entire time budget. We gladly moved on from challenges that required deeper expertise, but otherwise, I aimed to provide Liinu with enough information and understanding to solve the problems. 

At first, it was difficult to know where to start when you don't have a pre-existing understanding of programming concepts. Jan gave me a good foundation to learn more if I ever want to deepen my skills. Now that I'm getting the hang of the basics, my attitude toward technology has changed, and my thirst for knowledge has only grown. It's easier to communicate with the team when I understand the technical details better.

Liinu Lassila, Senior Designer, Nitor 

The biggest challenges we faced were the more advanced programming concepts, which are often a bit tricky to grasp the first time around. It was rewarding to see Liinu catching on to new things, even though I'm always a bit nervous about whether I can teach in a way that ensures understanding. 

The Mentoring Program allowed time for learning 

The clear beginning and end of the mentoring program provided a framework for time management so I could plan what topics we could cover and to what extent. It's easy to imagine unlimited time being beneficial for learning, but I think it would only lead to not taking the time to learn new things amidst the everyday hustle and bustle.    

We received a comprehensive introduction to the process itself and what aspects to focus on during mentoring. We also had the opportunity to use various tools if needed. Although the program provided structure and framework, it also allowed enough freedom to carry out mentoring in a way that suited us. 

It is important that we have the opportunity to practice new skills related to our work in a safe environment. In a consultancy firm, there can never be too much interaction and support for each other. Nitor has a wealth of expertise, and it's great that it's shared.

Are you ready to carve your own path as a Nitor Digital Engineer? Take a look at our open Senior Full Stack Developer position – maybe you’ll be taking part in the next mentorship program!

The Mentoring Stories article series sheds light on our mentoring program that offers the possibility to learn and share advanced and cross-functional knowledge with fellow Nitoreans. At Nitor, we embrace the diverse and unique journeys of our Digital Engineers. Enabling personal growth paths and supporting self-development through concrete methods and social learning is one of our core values.

Written by

Jan Nyholm
Senior Software Developer

Jan likes code. He also likes solving problems. Solving problems using code and working as a team is something he likes even more. And dogs! If there can be dogs it's even better!