The senior developer effect

One week to go to my last day in the IT Academy Bootcamp. 5 months have gone and still I feel like I haven’t learnt anything (yes, I know that I’m just scared, I’ve learnt A LOT). In one of those grey days where I couldn’t do anything more than breathe because of my lack of neurons, I found myself in youtube searching for videos to encourage me to keep pushing and tell me “Cris, stay quiet. It’s normal to freak out”.

I found this terrific video from Netta Bondy talking in a Front End Event (You gotta Love Frontend 2016). She talks in a marvelous way how for us, junior developers, feel like when we start in our first job and how important is how seniors can teach us in a meaningful way, not only with confidence also with creative thinking.

I don’t know still how is the situation in IT companies in Barcelona. But, please, if you are a senior or a mentor, you have to watch this. If you cannot watch it, I transcribed some of her words adding some mines. It will be very helpful for us (and for you!) if you take in mind Bondy’s words.

  • We don’t know what is going on with us the first day of our jobs. Do we have a seat? Are we allowed to share our thoughts? We are scared to ask you even what we have to do. So, please: have a plan. If you leave us with a bunch of documentation, make sure we will meet again in few hours to ask you all we have in mind. Make sure that we understood (at least almost) everything. Because…
  • We are not sure if we are good enough. It’s our first job in frontend. We will google everything. And by everything, I mean everything. And we don’t even know if the answers will be good. If it works, we don’t know why it works. If it doesn’t, we don’t know either. First we will think if you leave us alone: “What am I doing here? Why did they hired me?”. Lead us to know that this feeling is normal and with time, it will disappear by asking, failing, having success, and failing again.
  • We don’t know if we’re doing progress. We’re the worst evaluators ever with ourselves. We need your feedback once in a while. Share your experiences with us. And make it clear, understandable and relevant. Focus on our skills, not in our person beginning the sentences with “you are…” because we are not our code. Share with us similar experiences. We are sure you had your first day in this company or your first company starting out as a junior developer. It’s not showing us your weaknesses, it’s showing us empathy.
  • Did you know that we feel awful to google every time? When I discovered (me, Cristina) that developers use their 80% of the day googling, I felt better. How that could be normal? And they pay me for this?
  • We want to make you know that we are a good addition to the team by our code, and we understand that we have to start small. And we know that means doing things that almost no one wants to do. We have to start somewhere. But, we don’t love doing the same tasks over and over again. We love challenges! So, what happens? We get bored and we don’t learn. Do we have to follow the 10000 hours rule (10000 hours practice)? So if we, as juniors, are challenged to deal with frustration with the same thing over and over again, we will get burned out and we will not learn anything. So, make sure you give us creative and challenging practices with the objective to learn.
  • We know that sometimes you are not happy with us having us there around. That you get frustrated with us with how we are doing. We know that you don’t have time for us, for our questions, or silly situations breaking things. We know what you think about us. We know when you think that we are stupid or lazy. That we’re not cut out for this. If we see you thinking that too often, we’ll start thinking that too. And remember that we’re the first “scared” in this situation. But we believe in you. We don’t believe in our own trust judgement, but we know that what you are talking about. So if we feel that you don’t believe in our chances, we will take you a word for it, over our own. So if you feel that you don’t believe in our potential, please, consider yourself if you should be teaching us.
  • At that moment, we can only be as good as you are. You shape how we see the world. We learn to… copy. And we learn to copy you. And we will think that, that’s a good developer. You set the limits of what we believe we can become and beyond. So, be the developer you want us to be.

We were (we are) working hard to have this position. We worked hard, even if coding wasn’t our thing and we managed to do it (still we are). So we have potential to become the best developer we can become. We will give you all the feedback that you need to tell you that you are doing your best to teach us. We know that our job is to learn.

ANNOTATION: I’ve been told that maybe these words may sound kind of “victimism”. The intention of transcribing and adding my opinions on the video is simply that if you are in the position of boss, senior or mentor, you have in mind some points that will make the life of both (junior + senior) easier. Juniors for sure, have a lot to offer. And for sure a lot of knowledge too. I’m talking about trust and commitment. We are great professionals, and most important, great human beings. So, let’s help each other.

“Learn to program in 1 month”

Good good good…
Three months have passed since the beginning of the course. There are some things that have been very clear to all the attendees and also to the teachers: there is too much agenda for everything we have to practice.

The part of networking, webservices, JSON and Virtual Machine has left us dizzy. We did not start to see a bit of interesting stuff until Version Control (git) and SQL. We were at the beginning of June with a head full of theory and almost without having hit any key. WRONG.

We are now at the beginning of August. We have learned HTML, CSS, UX and start with JavaScript. We had to look for parallel courses other than lynda.com’s since the ones with JavaScript were very advanced for us. The one that is taking us all out of trouble is: Udemy’s The Web Developer Bootcamp from Colt Steele. 100% recommendable.

The second part of the course begins now, when we are not exactly in the course. We are forever-alone all August. We will have to continue learning all by ourselves if we want the course to be productive and we can sell ourselves well to a company in autumn. The agenda has become big, we are in summer and we have the feeling of not having learned “nothing” (it is a lie, I have never learned so much in my life). The mind is boycotting us because of the pressure of the countdown. We have to remind us that it is IMPOSSIBLE to learn so much in such a short time.

I insist for those who are doing Bootcamps or are thinking of doing one: IT IS IMPOSSIBLE TO LEARN SO MUCH IN A LITTLE TIME.

It is assumed that at this point (3 months of course) those who started from 0 (me and 17 others) would have to be doing Angular 2. Obviously there was a small calculation error or the expectations were very high, since it is (I repeat) IMPOSSIBLE to learn everything we have learned in such a short time and think that in 3 months we will be Angular 2 experts. I remind you of the agenda here. Getting to php would be a miracle.

For those who are in Angular 2 or even working, are engineers or advanced students who have done previous studies in JAVA or Android.

Dealing with frustration is also very important although we know that we are doing A LOT. We are a few that we already have some exhaustion over and we received August with a lot of love to continue learning at a somewhat more relaxed pace (I’m taking my laptop with me on vacation, poor thing). Especially knowing that in September we have to give the best of us as we have a Market Place and our neurons, a cv and linkedin have to look bright.

It is VERY necessary to remember constantly that we are marketers, designers, cooks, psychologists or content creators. The terrible sentence “I’m a letter person” pursues us every day. And yes, I speak in feminine because of course, we have made a group women, which are the ones we are sharing and giving constant moral support because without a doubt, the course is very hard and learning to program without having a clue is complex.

I say all this from my most positive and honest side: despite all the hard work that is being done, we continue day by day, exercise by exercise, fighting with the code and realizing what the developer’s life is like. Jen Simmons, standard-bearer of Mozilla, gave us a good dose of reality (which I shared with my colleagues). It’s a MUST READING if you’re thinking about being a developer.

Yay! Let’s continue to the second phase!