Last month, for DrupalCon Dublin, I participated in my first sprint day… as a mentor. It was a day packed with fun, inspiration, motivation, non-stop learning, and a mention of webchick’s cat. Let’s dive in and find out what Sprint Mentoring is all about.
First, let’s discuss what is a sprint day. A sprint in software development terms, is a get-together for focused work on a project. Thus a sprint day is a day long gathering of Drupalists, developers, project managers, and really just anyone interested in pushing Drupal to the next level. That means even you can help out in a sprint, there’s something for everyone. Sprints are an important part of Drupal's growth, and are also a great opportunity to get involved, because others are on hand to help you contribute.
So let’s sprint, but how do I get started? Have no fear, help is at hand. As a mentor, we’re here to help guide you through finding an issue in the Drupal issue queue that you can work on, to working on and fixing the problem, than to actually posting a patch, reviewing others’ patches, testing, and finally getting your patch approved and pushed to the repository.
I enjoy helping others and I know how to jump into a project, look through the issues, and find bugs to fix. However since I feel that I’m still quite new to Drupal, I decided to help mentor the First-Time Sprinter Workshop. This hands-on workshop covers the basics of contribution essentials like the Drupal issue queue, IRC, as well as setting up development tools like git, and having a local copy of Drupal set-up to run on your laptop.
It was a great experience, and I will definitely mentor again, that feeling you get when you’ve helped others learn and achieve something with Drupal is special and somewhat addictive. There were separate rooms for the more advanced coders and themers to work on their modules as well as on Drupal core, these rooms also had mentors available.
I spoke with a few of the participants for their feedback. Some of them found it difficult to find issues that they could work on because they were either new to Drupal or they did not have a strong development background. There were a few project-managers who wanted to help out, but the sprint issues were mostly aimed at people who code in some way, fortunately one Drupalist was able to gather the project-managers together and go through managing the issue queue from a project managers’ perspective. So, next time I'll look into improving how people from different backgrounds can easily find work related to their own skills. We do use a tagging system but this could possibly be improved.
So why not come along and join us for the next mentored sprint, and maybe become a mentor too. You'll learn. By serving as a mentor, you'll learn from your mentees. You’ll receive recognition from your peers and you’ll feel more involved in the community; having a mentee come up to me and say "thank you" just made my day.