The Mentoring Process
Although the mentoring process is an organic one and may vary for each mentor and student, there is a basic structure that the mentoring process is expected to take. This rough outline may assist both mentor and student in determining how to move forward.
Select a Mentor
Using the information on the Mentors] page, the student should select a mentor with the right expertise and a reasonably compatible schedule. Language skills and location may also be important factors in selecting the right mentor.
After the student has selected an appropriate mentor, they should visit that mentor's personal wiki page. The mentor should maintain their contact information there. The student can use that information to make first contact. In that initial message, the student should tell the mentor that they are interested in learning from that mentor and what exactly the student expects to gain from the experience. Below is an example message that could be sent via email. A student who is contributing to Fedora Extras for the first time might write a message like this.
Hello, Mentor, I am Student. I found your name through the Fedora Mentors program. I am interested in learning how to become a contributor to the Fedora Extras project. I have read the information at http://fedoraproject.org/wiki/Extras and think this is a fascinating project. I have already started working on the steps outlined at http://fedoraproject.org/wiki/Extras/Contributors. I have not done anything like this before, and would like a little guidance. I'm currently stuck on the "Make a Package" step. I want to submit a new package "newextraspackage". I hope to get this package submitted to Extras and then begin working on some similar packages for submission. I have a little programming experience, but I haven't done any RPM packaging before. Can we meet on IRC at 1800 UTC on Monday in the #fedora-mentors channel? If you can point me to any resources about RPM packaging, I'll read those in the meantime. I will try to follow the outlined steps, but I'm sure I'm going to have more questions along the way. Thank you, Student
Note that this message clearly states what the student hopes to accomplish, what they have done so far, what their background experience includes, and where they foresee having questions. It is important that students take initiative to do as much as they can on their own. Mentors are available to answer questions and provide basic guidance, but they usually cannot walk someone through every simple step.
The mentor should respond to the first contact with some basic references. Those references will help the student get started. They can arrange a meeting time to get more done and to learn a little about each other and what they are going to be doing.
The student should visit whatever resources the mentor provides and should try to follow the mentor's advice as closely as possible. Through subsequent messages or meetings, they can work together to accomplish the student's goal. The burden rests on the student to do the actual work, and they should try to accomplish as much as they can on their own. The overall goal is for the student to learn how to do new things, so they should be using this as a learning opportunity, not a way to share a load.
Once the student has completed their initial goals, they will hopefully have a more complete understanding of how to complete that task again. They can continue to contact the mentor with new questions or projects in the future, but should try to get to a point where they are asking fewer questions than they are providing answers. As a student gains valuable experience, they should continue volunteering to be a mentor themselves. This way, they can give back to the project that helped them get started.