“I strive to instill confidence in my mentees,” — Daria Nesvitailo, a Senior Software Engineer (Java)

May 29, 2023 7 min read

My name is Nataliia Horova, and I continue to share the inspiring stories of our teammates. Today, I’d like to introduce you to Daria Nesvitailo, a Senior Software Engineer (Java)

In the interview, Daria shared how her participation in Innovecs’ Mentorship Program helped her to overcome impostor syndrome and establish boundaries with a mentee.

Her path to being a mentor is filled with guidance and growth. I hope Daria’s story inspires you to embark on your mentoring adventure, foster personal growth, and create a supportive community of lifelong learners.


Hi, Daria! Thank you for agreeing to this interview. Could you please share what motivated you to become a mentor?

In my childhood, I dreamed of teaching people, and the idea of sharing my knowledge with others always inspired me. But at school, I realized that my passion was the tech sphere, and my interests leaned more toward mathematics and physics. Therefore, when the time came to choose speciality at the university, it was clear as day — I picked computer technology without hesitation. Although, during my studies at university, I considered switching to psychology. Programming and psychotherapy are very similar, not only because they both start with the “P.” Analysis is a key characteristic in both fields. In programming, the skill set encompasses analyzing code, comprehending cause-and-effect relationships, and continuously striving for improved outcomes. Psychotherapy operates on parallel grounds. Instead of analyzing code, it focuses on understanding the individual, unraveling causal connections, and enhancing their emotional well-being. Both disciplines share the common goal of solving complexities and fostering positive transformations.

However, I ultimately chose to pursue a career as an engineer, and it has been a decision I have never regretted. Moreover, working in this area allows me to develop professionally and contribute to the evolution of future generations of technical specialists, combining my passion for teaching with my expertise in programming and psychology.

So, when the opportunity arose to become a mentor in the Mentorship Program at Innovecs, I embraced it, despite my initial concerns. Thanks to this program, I embarked on a rewarding journey as a mentor and am currently guiding my third mentee toward his goals.


How do mentors and mentees get acquainted? Who makes the choice —  a mentor or a mentee?

Getting to know each of my mentees was an exciting experience.

For example, in the Mentorship Program at Innovecs, we divided into two groups — mentors and mentees — and began by sharing interesting and essential details about ourselves, our work, personal values, and more. When harmonious connection occurred, it led to the formation of mentor-mentee partnerships. As an example, I expressed my belief in the importance of having a genuine desire to learn and become a programmer, evident through the “sparkle in their eyes.” During our meeting, I heard my future mentee express that his eyes were indeed sparkling, showing his specific interest in working with me. Sharing common principles and moving in the same direction is vital for fostering a successful collaboration.

The mentee I am currently working with reached out to me based on recommendations from acquaintances, expressing a strong desire to learn from my experience. It was a pleasant surprise to receive such a direct and enthusiastic request for mentorship. Initially, I wanted to ensure his seriousness and commitment. To do so, I provided detailed information on our future collaboration, discussed his comfort level with the development plan I had prepared, and analyzed our compatibility as mentor and mentee. By taking the time to analyze these factors, we established a strong foundation for our journey together.

Our collaboration is going well, and I am very proud that my mentee has already completed a pet project, which impressed me and kindled my inspiration. This is likely one of the reasons why I engage and find joy in mentoring — to gain inspiration from the enthusiasm and drive of individuals starting their tech careers. 

When you reach a certain level in your career, you gradually start feeling tired of further growth and learning, and that’s normal. However, observing someone else’s journey reminds me of accomplishments and invested effort. You begin to appreciate your achievements even more and become inspired to do and learn new things once again.


What challenges did you face as a mentor, and how did you overcome them?

One of the primary challenges I encountered was dealing with impostor syndrome and the uncertainty of being a competent professional, despite having sufficient experience. For instance, I was afraid of appearing unqualified in the eyes of my mentee and losing credibility if I couldn’t answer one of his questions. However, based on my own experience, I realized the importance of confronting these fears head-on. While there were moments when I didn’t answer some questions, I later learned that such situations could be an opportunity to grow and improve.

"You need to understand that you're a human who can make mistakes and have the right not to have all the answers." This remark profoundly impacted me. There's no need to despair if something doesn't work out. Instead of feeling discouraged, we must analyze our weaknesses and strive for continuous improvement," — shares Daria

Being strict. I realized the importance of establishing clear boundaries and maintaining a “student-teacher” relationship. When your relationship becomes more friendly, the mentee may reach out late at night or fail to complete assigned tasks; in other words, slack off. For a mentor, it is crucial to ensure that the mentee understands the significance of listening to and following guidance. After analyzing the situation, I became stricter, although it challenged my natural inclination to be positive. Surprisingly, this approach proved beneficial for my mentee’s progress and development.

Managing my own emotions. I never thought I could lose patience when, e.g., explaining the same material repeatedly and not seeing immediate understanding in my mentee’s eyes. While I ensured not to show any outward emotions, internally I struggled with frustration. Mentoring requires continuous self-improvement, particularly in managing one’s emotions. Staying calm, rational, and committed is essential, even during challenging moments.

"Staying calm was aided by my regular psychotherapy sessions over almost three years. During this time, I got a significant insight: 'Losing control serves no purpose; instead, it will only cause pain to the person. Your anger will subside, but the person will lose self-belief, leaving a lasting wound," — shares Daria

Now I understand that every uncontrolled emotion has lasting consequences for individuals. Try to proactively analyze your emotions, especially when tensions arise during work. Taking a moment to pause, breathe, and regain composure can significantly impact the situation. If explaining the material continues to be challenging, it’s better to postpone the topic to the next meeting.

Working through our emotions is advantageous for mentoring and fostering better communication with friends, family, and teammates. Acknowledging and addressing our emotions creates a healthier and more supportive environment for everyone involved.

How do you approach your work with mentees?

Overall, working with each mentee is highly individual, and the time dedicated to mentoring depends on their preparedness, experience, and willingness to learn. For mentees with some tech background, I assist in crafting a development plan to enhance their existing knowledge. When working with a beginner, I start from scratch, creating a solid foundation and outlining a step-by-step learning plan, including course recommendations and guidance on completing projects. By customizing the mentoring approach to meet each mentee’s specific needs, I foster growth and progress at their own pace, ensuring a fulfilling learning journey.

For example, the Mentorship Program at Innovecs lasted for six months. The first thing I ask my mentee is which goals we are setting, as it’s crucial to understand why we are doing this and whether the person wants to learn. 

Usually, the main goal is to find a job; however, we also focus on meeting specific employment requirements. As a mentor, I provide structured knowledge and assist in interview preparation, knowing what employers seek and which topics to cover. Furthermore, staying calm during the first few weeks on the job is important. I analyze my own experiences and the problems I faced and prepare my mentee for everything from day one. It’s crucial that the person feels confident and can adapt smoothly to the project.

Our collaboration as mentor and mentee concludes when the mentee finds a job. This is a successful completion of the program since the person has ultimately obtained employment and is earning money from what they have learned.

Much depends on how individuals perceive and assimilate information. Some have a technical mindset and quickly grasp the connections, while others require more detailed explanations and guidance in analyzing concepts.


How to maintain motivation for mentees? It’s easy to feel discouraged during the learning process, especially when things are not going well.

When a mentee faces challenges, you may provide tasks at a lower level, such as creating a mini project or learning and implementing new technology. By accomplishing simpler tasks, a mentee gains a sense of achievement that motivates one to do more.

However, if I notice a person losing motivation, I always try to find out the reason. In that case, I hold one-on-one conversations to understand the demotivating factors and how I should get a person back on track.

Self-confidence plays a significant role; as a mentor, I want to provide that. I understand the importance of having someone believe in you, so I strive to instill confidence in my mentees. Preventing them from giving up and motivating them to continue developing are essential aspects of my role.

However, a mentee can realize own passion in a different direction during the learning process, e.g., Front End (Angular) instead of Java. In such cases, I can do nothing because it’s a conscious choice by the individual. The mentorship program is designed to help people find their path and understand how they want to develop. The desire to earn money alone won’t sustain you in the tech field; you need to love what you do and be passionate about it.


What advice would you give to those who want to become a mentor?

Prepare for the role of a mentor. I enrolled in an InnoCamp course, which provided a solid foundation for my mentoring journey. The course contains fascinating techniques and approaches, such as effective communication with mentees, setting goals, creating development plans, and asking meaningful questions. The course’s well-structured and accessible presentation of information eliminated the need for additional research.

Be interested in the success of your mentee. As a mentor, your role goes beyond self-affirmation; it’s about helping to learn and achieve people’s goals. You should care about their progress and invest in their development.

Have knowledge and be able to convey it. Of course, a sufficient level of expertise is a vital factor for a mentor. I noticed one fact: while maintaining a good level of knowledge is essential, it’s equally crucial to share that knowledge in a simple and accessible way. The purpose of mentoring is to transfer knowledge that the mentee can absorb and apply in the future. When I notice my mentee’s confusion or lack of understanding, I always ask some questions to ensure the material is understood. If necessary, I go over the question again and again until my mentee understands.

Be curious and develop. Don’t be afraid of imperfections. If you don’t know something, it doesn’t make you a bad specialist; in fact, it gives us another opportunity for growth and improvement. A mentor is an authority and a role model who inspires mentees. When an experienced developer continues to advance, it motivates others to pursue continuous learning.

And finally, how has mentoring influenced you?

Mentorship has profoundly influenced me, providing inspiration and showing me why I started my tech journey. It takes me back to the excitement and passion that initially motivated me. 

Engaging in mentorship has also helped me identify areas where I should deepen my knowledge and new topics to explore to expand my skillset. For instance, the experience of mentoring has sparked an interest in developing a chatbot. I’m sure many people would benefit from my expertise in this area.

Each mentoring session was like a mini job interview, motivating me to prepare and be ready to answer any question thoroughly. I spent days worrying that the mentee would start doubting my knowledge. What really helped me was using it as a chance to grow whenever I couldn’t provide a clear answer to a question. I delved into the topic, broadly researched relevant literature, and gained a comprehensive understanding. Discussing these topics with my mentee and sharing my newfound experiences and knowledge with my team further enhanced my growth.

Rather than feeling empty or inadequate, those situations where I couldn’t answer a question helped me grow more personally and professionally. After that, I started to feel a sense of fulfillment.


In conclusion, I want to thank Daria for sharing her remarkable journey and insights. Our conversation was truly inspiring, and her professionalism and passion were evident.

For more information about the Mentorship Program, please reach out to innocamp@innovecs.com. Our team would be delighted to provide you with all the details and support you need on your mentoring journey.

Stay tuned for more captivating stories.

Nataliia Horova
PR&Media Relations Specialist
Exploring life stories and career paths of talented individuals.
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