How do I get a software architect as a mentor?

Once you've reached a certain level and you find yourself in a position of a “coding leader”, you'll probably want to get mentoring from an architect, if you want to grow more in that direction.

And so the question of this article arises. First, let's define an architect

A real architect:

  • codes on non-critical paths
  • implements architectural spikes and prototypes
  • glances over the code reviews
  • aligns with dev leads the learnings from those code reviews to what the architecture and design was actually meant to be
  • learns from the team while watching them do their work and adapts the architecture early enough to minimize risk and waste

Consequently, in a healthy organization, you just need to become a coding leader, and you'll have very often contact with an architect.

Depending on the org, a coding leader is something like a team lead or a senior dev.

What to do, as a coding leader, if you're not such an organization?

There are three options that I can think of:

  • try to change the organization from below – this is tough, you have to reach out to existing architects who don't act as per the definition above, and try to get them to behave that way
  • try to change the organization from above – this is more doable, but you need the patience of growing yourself to the level of an architect (as defined by the org), and then act as above, and promote your type of role to other colleague architects
  • leave the organization – this is the easiest, you just have to make sure that their definition of an architect matches the one above, and select the employer based on that