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Mentor.

I’ve been approached by a friend who has asked if I would mentor her teenage son in tech, development, hardware, etc. I really like the idea but I’m not sure yet where to start.

I put it to a group of friends to see where they’d recommend beginning. At first I struggled with tasks as if he was an intern, but that’s not what a “mentor” means to me. I had a mentor when I was in my 20’s, and he’s been a life long friend, but that relationship began when I became his employee.

When I began in tech, I had already grown up around computers throughout elementary school. That was unusual in the early 80’s and definitely gave me an advantage over time. Starting with Apple Basic in 4th grade helped me to understand coded logic, the difference between files and folders, the internals of computers. That all worked to my advantage shortly after I graduated high school and started building desktops and servers for myself. Then my second bench tech job introduced me to the industry in greater detail, in sales, customer service, margins, more complex systems and the consequences and vulnerabilities of our data over time.

For this fine young man, whom I met for the first time last weekend, I’m recommending that he start off in two areas: installing Linux on his desktop, and Arduino projects for remote data collection (sensors, mostly). Since desktop and server hardware are a thing of the past, the ability to collect and aggregate data in the cloud is where I see the next series of trends continuing. He’ll never have to swap out a video card or exchange a SCSI drive (yeah, I’m that old) unless he choses to tear apart his laptop… even their days as user-configurable systems are numbered.

Looking forward, I’m excited. This could be a new direction for myself, my kids and our future.