Stanley Fogleman says that SAS can be hard to learn on your own - not because it is a difficult language - but because of the various business requirements. In fact, even college students entering the workforce are often ill-prepared in some ways. That's why Fogleman believes that a SAS mentoring program can be so effective.
Fogleman says that when he first began learning SAS, he had only six months of mentoring - that was the length of a SAS consultant's contract that he was working with. During that time, he could ask any question that he wanted. After that, he was on his own to learn and figure out the courses to take.
Since that time, Fogleman has refined a mentoring program for junior programmers. He believes the plan should span one to two years, have executive buy-in and include SAS users group conferences.
"Creating a structured learning environment should be the goal of a mentor," said Fogleman.
Here are some of his tips for success:
- Map training using support.sas.com Learning Paths, training organized by job roles.
- Provide training milestones and keep track of accomplishments.
- Make yourself available as a resource.
- My favorite resources: SAS-L, sasCommunity.org and SAS Samples and SAS Notes
- Provide coding guidelines.
- Advocate SAS users group conference attendance and participation.
"I wish more managers knew about the value of that local, regional and national SAS users group conferences have," said Fogleman. "I can say very confidently that most of the SAS code that I've learned has been at conferences."
What not to do:
- Be a substitute manager
- Monday morning quarterback
"It's about guidance. Structured learning is more efficient," said Fogleman. "There are many different ways to solve programming problems, but there are also many blind alleys. A SAS mentor can help programmers avoid the blind alleys."
Read Fogleman's paper for more advice on What is a SAS Mentor? If you are interested in becoming a mentor, I'd suggest you contact Fogleman. In his presentation, he included a slide showing how to structure the learning process and accomplishments.