Supporting Core Dev Mentorship

The Steering Council would like some input regarding ideas to support and encourage mentorship among Core Developers more. The idea was brought up by Eric Snow at PyCon US this year, and we’ve talked with Deb Nicholson (the PSF’s Executive Director) as well.

The SC considers mentorship of new Core Developers very important for the longevity of the Python language and the CPython project. We need a diverse, vibrant developer community to maintain and develop Python in the long run. It takes time to find willing people with the right expertise and attitude, and it takes more time to ramp them up on the way we do things, how we approach language development and ongoing maintenance. We also need to do it in a way that allows them to bring their own unique contributions, that leaves them free to express their own point of view, rather than necessarily doing things the way we’ve always done them.

All of this means that mentorship takes time and effort, and we recognise that not everyone has the time and energy to invest in mentorship. Eric Snow brought up that some people may not be comfortable offering mentorship right now because they simply don’t know how to mentor, or don’t know how to get connected with potential mentees. Or, they’ve tried mentoring someone but weren’t certain it went well, or lack resources for learning how to improve, or how to deal with specific problems. Eric suggested, and the SC agrees, that we might be able to provide resources to make mentoring easier, using the PSF’s financial support. We don’t have unlimited resources, of course, but this feels like something that’s worth spending a bit of money on.

There are a few options that we’ve thought of so far:

  • An online mentorship workshop of some kind, a class that covers the basics of mentorship, how to approach certain issues, etc.
  • A handbook for mentorship, similar in content to the workshop but used more as a reference guide.
  • Specific resources for mentorship: Zoom accounts (or another video conference site), a webcam setup, anything that makes the mentoring more effective.
  • A more obvious way to connect potential mentors with potential mentees.
  • A mentorship mentor with regular office hours, for example monthly, where mentors can ask for help and guidance.
  • A monthly mentorship session on a particular topic chosen with input from the community

What do people think? Would this kind of support help your mentoring, or make it more likely for you to be able to mentor someone? Are there other things that we haven’t thought of that you might think might help?

To help us gauge interest, I’m attaching a quick poll covering the vague ideas we have in mind so far. (This is not a binding poll, it’s just to save people from replying if they just think it’s a good or bad idea; feel free to comment instead.)

  • Workshop sounds good
  • Handbook / online resources would be useful
  • I could use some of those “specific resources”
  • A way to connect mentors and mentees yes please
  • I would love to talk to a mentorship mentor
  • I’d like to attend monthly mentorship sessions
  • I already mentor and I don’t need anything
  • I’m not interested / not in a position to mentor regardless of what support is offered

0 voters


FWIW, the suggestions I made were the result of a long conversation I had with @VanL and @abadger, standing in the lobby of the conference hotel at PyCon this year. (Yay in-person events!) My determination to do something about it (i.e. talk to @thomas and @Deb), and a clearer perspective on what might help, wouldn’t have happened without the two of them. Thanks Van and Toshio!


Thanks for bringing this up @eric.snow! We discussed this in the 2020 core dev sprint as well, and I agree there is room for improvement in our collective mentoring.

My two cents: Perhaps a recurring online meeting of active mentors, to share experiences, provide and receive advice, and learn from each other? This could be part of the monthly sessions; for me it would likely be the more important part.

standing in the lobby of the conference hotel at PyCon this year. (Yay in-person events!)

I’m still hoping to attend that in person some day! It doesn’t seem I’ll even be able to attend the core dev sprint this year though :frowning: