Astropy mentoring program#


The Astropy mentoring scheme is still being set up, and this documentation is not ready for use.

Goals of the program#

While the Astropy project has been successful in attracting code contributions and feedback from the community, one of the biggest challenges for the sustainability of the project is training people to take on formal roles and responsibilities in the project, such as taking on maintainer roles for packages or sub-packages, or taking on other formal roles in the project.

The Astropy mentoring program provides a lightweight but formal framework to encourage, recruit, and train both new maintainers for the astropy core and coordinated packages, as well as people into other formal project roles.

There are two primary goals for the mentoring program:

  • To increase the number of people in maintainer and other roles in the Astropy community.

  • To provide a more structured way to facilitate succession of people into vacant roles.

This mentoring program is not intended to provide mentoring for e.g. first code contributions to the project or providing training for git or other parts of the contribution workflow.

The program is also not intended to be compulsory for people wanting to take on a formal role, but is meant to be available for people who would benefit from mentoring before taking on the role.

How the program works#

Identifying mentees#

A potential mentee is someone who is interested in ultimately taking on one of the formal roles in the project (as listed on the team page).

There are two main ways such a person could become a mentee in the program:

  • they could either decide themselves to apply to the mentoring program to indicate that they are interested in being paired up with a mentor and taking on a formal role.

  • one of the existing people in a role could identify someone they would like to mentor into joining them in that role and encourage this person to apply to the mentoring scheme.

Having both routes for nominations is important, as exiting maintainers may not have noticed a regular contributor or realized they were interested in taking on more responsibility, and at the same time some contributors might not realise that it is an option for them to take on more responsibility in the project.

In either case, the first formal step is for the mentee to fill out an online application form to apply to the program.

Pairing up with a mentor#

Once the mentoring program receives an application, the mentoring coordinator reaches out to potential mentors. A mentor is ideally someone who already holds the role that the mentee is interested in also joining, but in cases where the role is unfilled, it could be someone in a similar role (for example, if one of the core sub-packages has a role which is vacant, another core package developer might be able to act as a mentor).

If a willing and available mentor is identified, they fill out a form to also be registered in the mentoring scheme (if they have not already done so previously). However, it may be that there are no individuals available to mentor – thus we cannot guarantee that everyone who wants to become a mentee would be able to do so.

Mentoring program guidance#

Once a mentee and mentor are paired up, they are sent links to handbooks for the mentoring program. These include recommendations/suggested guidance such as related to communication, tracking progress, and so on. However, many aspects are be left up to the mentee and mentor to decide on, and a large fraction of the handbook is guidance not requirements. The mentor is responsible for making sure that regular meetings are held with the mentee and to offer guidance and support in a way most suitable to the mentee.

Progress check-in and reviews#

The mentoring program will send automated monthly check-ins with mentors and mentees by email to ask if there are any issues that need to be raised with the mentoring coordinator (with the default of not needing to reply if everything is going well).

Every three months, the mentor will be sent an automated email to ask them to assess progress progress and determine whether the mentee is ready to ‘graduate’ to the formal role - and they should reply to the email with their conclusions.


Once the mentor has determined that the mentee is ready to join the formal role, they should go through the standard project process to nominate someone to a role. Once the role is approved, the formal mentoring program ends, but we encourage the former mentee and mentor to continue communicating regularly.