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.

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