My Experience as a Drupal Mentor: Empowering the Next Generation of Web Devs

When I first discovered Drupal, it was love at first click. I was fascinated by how easy it was to build powerful websites and digital platforms with its free, open source tools.

One of the things that attracted me to the Drupal community from the beginning was its commitment to giving back. Every line of code, module, and feature created with this open source content management system is available for anyone to use – and there’s nothing Drupal enthusiasts love more than turning other devs into Drupal converts. Drupal is a community-driven movement focused on ensuring that everyone can tap into its potential.

I’ve been involved with Drupal for 16 years (my experience can officially drive a car now!). Throughout the years, I’ve had the opportunity to attend DrupalCon and actively contribute to Drupal through my work at Oomph. As an agency, Oomph has given back to the community by sponsoring the annual New England Drupal Camp; hosting the monthly Providence Drupal Meetup; developing new modules like Oomph ParagraphsShared Field Display SettingsLayout Section Fields; and supporting the Talking Drupal Podcast.

On a personal level, I’ve always wanted to do more for Drupal, but it’s not always easy to find the time when you spend your days building digital platforms and your nights convincing your energetic 3-year-old to go to bed. While many people contribute their time and expertise by developing code or modules, finding the time for those contributions has been challenging for me.

In my search for ways to give back, I discovered mentoring. My decision to become a mentor was driven by a desire to share my knowledge and experiences with others and help them navigate the Drupal world.

I also had an ulterior motive: I want others to fall in love with open-source software just as I did. By fostering a passion for Drupal and open source in general, we can ensure our community continues to thrive and flourish. For those just beginning to explore open source, the Open Source Utopia Podcast and this talk from DrupalCon 2023 are great intros to the topic (warning: you might get hooked!).

Becoming a Drupal mentor has been an incredibly fulfilling experience, allowing me to give back without sacrificing work-life balance and witness the growth of aspiring web developers. If you’re a Drupal power user eager to give back or an emerging developer looking for mentoring support, I’ve got you covered. Here’s what I’ve learned over the first year of my mentoring journey. Drupal Easy

Drupal Easy is a platform that offers training programs for people who want to become Drupal developers. Their courses provide the knowledge and skills to excel in Drupal.

During their training, DrupalEasy students get helpful resources and a designated mentor (that could be you!) who acts as a direct line to all things Drupal. As a mentor, you’ll be there to help them overcome any challenges.

As part of my mentoring experience, I volunteered to help with the DrupalEasy program. It’s been satisfying to help students learn about the ins and outs of Drupal – and seeing their enthusiasm and talent makes me excited for the future of the community.

Discover Drupal

Discover Drupal is a fantastic initiative providing individuals from underrepresented groups with the opportunity to learn Drupal and kickstart their careers in web development.

The program guides users through various training programs, culminating in a trip to DrupalCon. It’s an incredible experience for these developers, as it feels like a graduation ceremony where they get to meet and connect with everyone in the Drupal community.

Something that sets Discover Drupal apart is the hands-on mentorship and education they provide for each student; weekly office hours bring students and mentors together in a collaborative environment, while regular workshops go deeper on specific areas students (and mentors) need to know. As a mentor, I supported and guided my mentee through the program, helping her succeed and nurturing her love for all things Drupal.

My mentee, Cindy Garcia, had been working in agencies doing WordPress development but found Drupal much more appealing. She resonated with Drupal’s mission and brought a unique perspective and passion to the community. (Fun fact: Cindy was a wrestling referee and an award-winning martial artist!)

We began our 1-1s by meeting twice weekly, gradually transitioning to once a week as Cindy grew more comfortable with Drupal. She drove the agenda, and I was there to help her solve any challenges she encountered. We started with the basics, such as making a view work within Drupal. I walked her through the process and guided her to ensure she grasped the concepts effectively.

As our mentoring relationship evolved, we delved into more complex technical topics. Cindy would come to me with specific questions about modules or code she was working on. It became a form of paired programming, where we would analyze her code together, troubleshooting and finding solutions collaboratively.

Most bootcamps are designed to teach you only basic concepts that can take years to master, says Cindy. But with Discover Drupal, Cindy was able to build four Drupal websites and had two contribution credits within a year.“I really felt the Discover Drupal program hit their benchmarks when it came to training new developers,” Cindy says. “It gave me a new career to look forward to and a great community to plug into when I am facing problems I can’t solve on my own.”

The most rewarding part of this mentoring experience for me? Meeting Cindy in person at DrupalCon and celebrating her achievements together. I can’t wait to watch how her career unfolds from here.

Volunteering at DrupalCon

In addition to meeting Cindy face to face, I also had the chance to give back at DrupalCon 2023.

Each year, DrupalCon hosts a “Contribution Day,” where attendees are invited to spend the day contributing their expertise — including coding, documentation, translation, graphic design, and more — to issues they’re passionate about. It’s a fantastic opportunity to contribute to the ever-expanding Drupal resource base in a meaningful way. True to its mission of inclusion, Drupal encourages first-time contributors to participate to ensure everyone has a chance to make a difference.

I had the chance to support the first-time contributors workshop, working alongside volunteers and other mentors to ideate and build in real time. We collaborated, shared knowledge, and helped newcomers navigate their first steps into the Drupal contribution space. The feeling of making a real impact and empowering others was so gratifying — I’m already eager to head back for DrupalCon 2024.

My Biggest Takeaway? There’s Room for Everyone in Drupal

As I transitioned from Drupal user to Drupal mentor this year, I couldn’t help but feel a sense of fear and uncertainty at first. I questioned whether I needed more knowledge or experience to make a meaningful contribution.

However, I quickly discovered everyone in the Drupal community is incredibly supportive and genuinely wants to help others succeed. I’m so glad I didn’t let self-doubt hold me back.

Mentoring is not about having all the answers or being the smartest person in the room. It’s about sharing your experiences, insights, and guiding others through their Drupal journey. By offering support and encouragement, you can have a powerful effect on someone’s career trajectory.

The Drupal community is built on collaboration and mutual support. We’re all on this journey together, constantly learning and evolving.

If you’re interested in getting involved, check out Drupal’s resources on mentoring with Drupal Easy and Discover Drupal,. Hope to see you out there on the mentoring journey!



More about this author

Philip Frilling

Lead Back-end Engineer

I’m a Lead Back-end Engineer at Oomph, based in Minster, Ohio. I help to build amazing digital experiences on both the front and back ends of projects and I am passionate about open source software – especially Drupal!

I’ve always had a passion for the web and open source software, though I didn’t realize it at the time when I was toying around with Mandrake Linux and writing html in a text editor. I created many custom content management systems until 2007 when I was introduced to Drupal and realized the power of the community. Since then, I’ve built hundreds of sites using Drupal and express my thanks to the software by giving back to the community as much as possible.

When I’m not working I love being outdoors. I spend my summers playing golf, cycling and spending as much time as possible sipping wine on the patio with my wife. In the winter you’ll find me out west skiing, or looking out the window dreaming of skiing. In the fall, you’ll likely find me in a pair of lederhosen attending regional Oktoberfest celebrations.