"How long will it take to solve my issue?" and other tough questions I am frequently asked as a mentor
I've been a Codementor for over 3 years now, with more than 110 mentoring sessions, and one of the things I hear often is this question, either a few minutes before the beginning of a session or after a few minutes in it. And it is reasonable: a lot of us want to know how much our session is gonna cost and how long it is going to be. That's why I decided to create this post and comment on how I approach these and other common questions.
How long will it take to solve this?
Answer: It depends. On what?
- The complexity of the problem.
- The complexity of the environment we are working on.
- Your internet connection speed.
- Whether or not I can access and modify the code directly vs. doing it via screen share.
- Many more.
Some issues take more than others. If you are on a time/budget constraint, please express it early on the call and we can discuss the best approach.
Can we do it for $XX / in N minutes?
Answer: I cannot fix a time or cost for solving most issues. It is simply not possible as doing so would force me to make you a promise I cannot meet on a task that is unique to yourself and which scope is unknown.
So my approach is this: I work by the minute, at the rate you can see in my profile. If by the time we get to $XX (and its equivalent in time) you would like to end the session, you are free to do it and we will still be friends. However, if the time was not enough for me to find a solution, please do not expect a refund.
Keep in mind I did my best to find a solution in the quickest way possible, and my time is as valuable as yours. Therefore, please kindly don't leave a bad review either.
How do I know you can solve it?
Answer: With enough time, I can solve it, otherwise I will let you know within the first few minutes on the call, and not charge you at all.
That being said, there are cases where it becomes pretty obvious that we are in front of an issue with lots of unknowns. When that is the case, within the first 10 minutes of a session I let my mentees know the situation, and some of the things I believe I can do. If I cannot guarantee that a solution is possible within reasonable time, I let them know as well. From here two paths are possible:
- Mentee decides to continue and make a "leap of faith" together.
- Mentee decides to look for help elsewhere; in this case, I will not charge for the time.
I am backed by my 15+ years building a reputation in this field, and you can trust that if we jump on a session I will be the first one to tell you if I can or cannot solve it. In more than 110 sessions there was never a case where I charged a mentee for a problem I could not solve in reasonable time.
So, ready to do some problem solving together?