Motivated by our mission to provide accessible tech education, we offer Telegraph Track as an extension of our Hack Reactor Coding Bootcamps. Through Telegraph Track, we provide an extra layer of non-technical support for students from backgrounds that are underrepresented* in tech as they launch new software engineering careers.
The primary focus of Telegraph programming is to create a technical network for underrepresented engineers, allowing a supportive transition into this career path. Students have access to networking events, career panels, workshops, a rich professional network, and 1:1 mentorship with professional software engineers. In this post, we’re focusing primarily on the mentorship aspect of Telegraph Track, which pairs students at the point of graduation with professional software engineers and managers who help them navigate the tech industry and support their post-bootcamp career-related interests and goals.
To learn how mentorship works and explore its impact, we interviewed Sofie Graham. Sofie is a Hack Reactor graduate who participated in Telegraph Track as a student and decided to become a mentor now that she’s working as a Team Lead Backend Engineer at the gaming company VWG. Read about her experience below.
Interview with mentor Sofie Graham
How was your experience with Telegraph Track during your time as a bootcamp student?
When I first started at Hack Reactor, I immediately felt a sense of belonging. It’s something that you notice as a minority in tech, that there’s a big difference between just saying, “We don’t discriminate” and saying, “We have done the work to make sure everyone feels welcome and included here.” Hack Reactor most certainly does the work.
As a student, Telegraph Track gave me access to industry experts, apprenticeship opportunities, and a mentor who gave me insights on what being an engineer in the “real world” would look like. Since then, I’ve progressed so much as an engineer, and my appreciation for the work that Telegraph Track does has grown more and more as I’ve come to realize just how rare programs like this are.
Why did you want to join on as a mentor?
I chose to become a mentor because I, too, want to do the work to make others feel welcome in the wonderful world of engineering.
How long have you been a mentor? And how has the experience been so far?
I’ve been a mentor with Telegraph Track for almost a year now, and the experience has been very fulfilling. Each mentee has a different story and is facing their own unique challenges in their engineering journey. There’s no “script” you can follow to be a good mentor; you have to figure out what each person needs and then work together to make progress. The great thing about Hack Reactor mentees is that you know they have already put in the work to become solid engineers, so any other hurdles they are facing will be surmountable – whether it’s mock interviews, resume reviews, or dealing with imposter syndrome. I help keep them accountable with their portfolio projects, and I’m there to encourage them to keep going when things get tough.
Why do you think mentorship (particularly in this context, for underrepresented groups) in software engineering is important?
Improving the ratio of underrepresented groups in tech is not about achieving “better diversity numbers.” It’s about introducing entirely new perspectives to the practice of engineering. Even now, after spending years in the industry, I can’t count how many times I have been in a room full of engineers and I’ve been the only female. I mentor underrepresented folks because the field of engineering will progress further and faster when we are able to take advantage of the multitude of worldviews that currently don’t even have a seat at the table.
What would you say to someone who’s considering becoming a Telegraph Track mentor? Any encouragement and/or advice for them?
I was hesitant to sign up to be a mentor because I didn’t feel qualified, which is ironic because I manage a team of engineers at work, so a huge part of my profession is literally mentoring engineers. But that’s how strong imposter syndrome can be, and that’s a big part of why I wanted to become a Telegraph Track mentor, to help people overcome that. One piece of advice I give all my mentees is, “If the thought of doing something scares you, then it’s probably a great opportunity for growth.”
So, if the thought of becoming a mentor makes you uncomfortable, do it. You’ll find you have a lot more to offer than you realize.
Join us as a Telegraph Track mentor!
With Sofie’s excellent insight and advice in mind, we invite you to consider joining us as a mentor. All working software engineers and managers are welcome; there’s no need to be a Hack Reactor graduate.
The time commitment for mentorship is 4 hours over the course of 1-2 months. Learn more about Telegragh Track mentorship, and if you’re interested in joining, please fill out this mentor-matching form.
Or, if you’re not a software engineer yet but you’d like to become one, learn about our Hack Reactor Coding Bootcamps. No matter which bootcamp you choose, you’ll graduate as a job-ready, full-stack software engineer — and you’ll have our team’s support along the way.
*Those underrepresented in tech include women and nonbinary people, Black, Indigenous, People of Color (BIPOC), members of the LGBTQIA+ community, people with disabilities, Veterans, military spouses, and students over age 40. We use historical participant data and reference reputable nonprofit and government bodies of research about underrepresented groups in tech to inform our process. With that said, our definition is flexible. If a student believes they’re underrepresented in a different way, we encourage them to apply to Telegraph Track.