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Strategies for being the Junior on the Team


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time and you have to do it and so on and so on and off much coming and Louisa Barrett and the developer at part code works in Longmont Colorado I just completed my term as the director of Colorado for women who code regular teaching assistant at workshops in Denver and and I am very excited about this microphone because I feel like a back street boys it I'm also junior the so I would just like to take 1 minute and talk about all that because if someone had told me a couple just humanist couple years ago that I would be here on this stage at this conference saying what I just said to a room full of people I would have said 2 things 1 your crazy and 2 I a radial so how did I end up on a stage at this conference talking to a room full of people let's go back to the beginning of each so that article I have a DFA graphic design and I also have a very distinct memory of being in the 1 technical class required for my degree which was a very injured HTML CSS costs and feeling completely like a fish out of water and thinking that whatever work ended up doing after I graduated but I did not want to be doing that sort of thing all day long but I mean like come onto the real self now and it took me almost 7 years of working as an exhibit graphic designer before I finally had to face the fact that what I really don't want to be doing with building things of code and they
had to admit to myself I had to admit to myself that I had made a satellite technical error in not learning the program so I switch gears and I don't know
anyone in the industry and I hadn't been doing design work that really had any Weber digital components so I really wasn't sure where to start they knew I was missing any opportunity I might have to do the work that I really wanted to do unfortunately for me right around this time a brand new spanking the can 6 month 1 developer training program excuse me I started up and under which is right in my own backyard but they would like 30 miles from my backyard the and I discover this program when you're marketing admissions to the 1st class and by the time admissions open for the 2nd Klassificering involve 2013 I was ready I applied and to make complete the light and surprise did and
then perhaps less surprisingly it completely kick
my butt and code crying is you yeah um but aside from kicking my
but it introduced me to people who have been absolutely incredible in helping me shape and strategize the 1st phase of my career as a developer In these human connections have helped me feel confident about the being a place for me in this industry and encouragement has kept me pushing forward no matter what obstacles that had along the way I've been really fortunate to been on the receiving end of a lot of really great advice guidance and as gold rubber meets the road experiences a newbie and I'd like to share some of the strategies and tips that have helped me make sure I was keeping myself on track and making progress is a transition from a student to an apprentice to a junior developer the most powerful tool you have is a newbie working to gain traction is deceptively simple if people and that means you're going to have to network it's not a dirty word yeah this is something that everyone giving advice to anyone all the time says about every industry and it's really easy for it to turn into kind of an overused throwaway piece of advice you get whatever your job hunting were switching careers or just being a professional but it's extremely important and it's very worth the effort to be deliberate and focused about how you approach it building a network sounds easy enough but would essentially need and where to start so you have to do a little bit of leg work to figure out this piece of the puzzle fortunately the whole point of the network is that it's very social and it wants to tell you what it's up to you great places to start our meetups or other local industry gatherings for conferences and because these events usually feature some sort of activity like a talker workshop means you don't just have to mingle for 3 hours straight and you're guaranteed to have something to chat about what the other attendees during breaks and that means that you won't have to just talk about your cat the but you can if you want to not to do that maybe sometimes and 1 of the
best things about networking is how much it's like dominoes the you me 1 person and then they introduce you to someone they know and then that person inches it introduces you to someone they know and then before you know it you're the 1 starting to introduce people who don't know each other yet once you know a few friendly faces 3 hours of mingling or a cat conversations isn't so nerve-racking a stressful it's actually pretty fun because now you work inside the network there isn't even a secret handshake for
the and there's also a repeat of the password and the which is maybe the most important part I and then once you've figured
out what events you want to be a part of make nature that you keep showing up this is a really simple idea that has made a huge difference for me so i'm tend to be a little bit of an introverted workaholic and I work in a 100 % remote company this is a dangerous combination when you're trying to get out of the social the community take a really have just like myself up to go to meet that's some conferences because there will be humans there the and that also means that my to do list is in getting the but once in there I always love it but even knowing the benefits it can still be a struggle to get yourself out there especially when you don't know a lot of people in the community it can be tough to make these kind of events your priority but the little voices telling you it's OK to just get that this 1 time remember showing up make sure talent and you extremely visible on the community and it can lead to doors being opened it can lead to the diverse being open to great opportunities that you might not have otherwise known for there so keep showing up those 3 words have been some of the best advice I have ever got it's a pep talk and a motivator an excuse through hour all wrapped into 1 neat little package and the you new to a community showing that keeps you fresh in people's minds it makes you 1 those friendly faces people look forward to seeing and it shows that you're committed to an excited about being a part of this community and that matters a what the importance of putting in face time with real people can't be stressed enough because a connection to the community in a very positive way and at the end of the day that's really valuable when you don't have a long track record as a developer and it can also help you find a mentor this is a tough subject everyone wants 1 nobody really knows how to get 1 because that's not a cookie-cutter problem In my work in the local community on this topic comes up over and over again and it's hard to answer for people because there is dement for stock but they're probably should be because the bounds also but the problem is that you can't really just go get a man to work the mentor and mentee relationship really isn't something that can be forced and not absolutely can be jumpstarted make meaningful introductions with the goal of growing into a mentor and mentee connection it ultimately it has to evolve naturally Proc friendships you are going to be best friends with everyone you meet not everyone is going to sink well together as a mentor warranty and it's hard to find the people who you're not only going to work well with you also have the time to be able to make the commitment to your learning and progress that meaningful mentoring requires and this is where those social investments you're making with the network and showing up start coming into play casual conversations that events can easily lead to interesting new projects or problems you're working the alert to opportunities to get input from people you chatting with that events especially the ones were consistently there and welcoming to newbies the and here a couple of things you can do to make a mentor have successful and book forge a solid relationship once you've established a connection if you're having trouble finding on and were brought church criteria little bit they don't necessarily have to come and Senior Developer package and it doesn't have to be a really formal arrangement time spent working with other junior mid-level doves were also solidifying their skills and understanding can be incredibly helpful because you're both actively hunting for the answer to the problem working with someone of a similar skill level to means that the bounds of knowledge and understanding is more equal so it's a totally different dynamic and we're working with the senior might already see the solution to the problem and it's something nudging you 2 words that right half and pull your weight keep in mind that their relationship you established with a mentor is a 2 way street this person is happily investing the time in your education and that time could be spent with their family on their own projects of client work or just relaxing so it's really important that your pulling away it should be very clear to them that this is a priority to you because they're doing you a favor by working with you and investing in their learning you know what you wanna work on and if you have specific questions have been ready to go over don't expect them to always have a plan that lesson for topics to cover minimize the they might not thank you so if you need help figuring out what to work on I don't have a project to dig into to make having that conversation the what you do what you cover during a meeting so all this networking in showing up the mentor hunting has another big positive results you start meeting the people that you be working with the company's and this gives you few judges a starting out because it means are not flying blind anymore it means you have a better understanding of the companies in your area you have a better idea which ones might be interested in bringing on a junior and which genes might really in which she said people you really enjoy being around rather than primarily talking to people in a jollity probably with an initial interview stages at a big company will actually having we're actually having conversations with the people who are on the engineering teams that you'd like to be a part of it also means you have been in that the company someone who knows who knows you implement the hiring Department of the resonators headed their way this is also knowledge it can be a huge help in figuring out what kind of environment you're looking for in a workplace which will help you be strategic about finding a company that's a good fit be honest with yourself about the type of company will be the best fit for you so you can set yourself up for success you want your 1st job to be a positive experience that allows you to get your bearings and learn as much as you can so do your research and understand how to place yourself to get the best career want you can the 3 general bucket types that many companies fall into product companies to do 1 thing and do it well an established product company maybe a better grade may be better able to observe the extra time and then 4 hours that junior needs but it can likely and can likely that you focus on 1 area on 1 project this really gives you time to to dive deeply and understand the she working in and solidify the still the language used in that part of the project a working on if you create action a bigger company that focuses on 1 large project may move a little more slowly than you'd like a consultancy may have more opportunities to try new skills and work on a range of very different projects for different clients false operating gradients and acquire management the moving from client to client links can slow down your learning case and balancing billable hours on client projects Virginia's can be tricky this is such a tempting idea of the style you're getting a seat on a rocket ship right is it takes 7 is in a one to Brazilian dollar empire because that's how all go um so start a fast paced and exciting which could mean that you find yourself struggling to keep up with the speed that features need to be shipped if you love a challenge indicate comfortable taking risks and you learn well under pressure that might be a good thing and that is the odds are great that were ever kind of company land there will be a thing bundle so don't freak out and a few other factors to can direct companies 5 a large company will have more wriggle room to allow you to to give you time to focus on learning rather than build project work and you have more people the pair with as you working it may be easier to get lost in the flow of a big team so make sure they are advocating for yourself to get the support mentorship working opportunities that you need by improved to keep improving their skills a smaller company will probably need you to dive right in and be productive and it's likely that you'll have chances to work with everyone on the team there's no hiding of a small shop if you're having an unproductive Davao so make sure that you speak up and if you're not making progress and you need a hand let someone know the base of the team that this the team moves may often be pretty quick so speak up if you need them to slow down and explain something to you the the ratio of genius to seniors teams really only junior sea seniors can be really fun to be a part of because things just get done and like magic but it can be a little tricky to help your team it's really understand the not not understanding something fundamental that they just as soon as you the common knowledge or just painfully obvious so don't be shy about asking questions and keep asking questions until they have drill down to the level that you needed to get to to understand teams that are used to having a newbie on word can unintentionally overlook explaining things that are confusing to you so just keep speaking up this might very well be an educational experience for everyone involved teams of the makes seniors and seniors and juniors to level and level developers show that the retaining experienced people and investing enough in commerce will also like great opportunities to work with people who symbols similar skill level to you and people who were significantly more experienced the more experienced team members that will be used to working with new newbies and the Navy's prehistoric with people on the range syllables you likely have opportunities down there to help teach the new junior hires and that's a great way to improve your skills as well achievements primarily juniors or with 1 or 2 mid level a senior engineers is probably not the best place for a newbie you will be in your living situation it's only the most experienced person on the team and what she found a place on a team find you go to person to work with when you need a hand the almost the most people I work with are more than happy to help there certain people who absolutely love teaching and really enjoy working with up-and-coming team members find those people and work with them as much as you can see the doing down and discover the gaps in your foundational knowledge and it can help you fill them a good way to figure out who's happy to help and who loves to teach us to pay careful attention to how they pair with you the helpful to help or will get you through the problem successfully but they may speed through explaining why they made the choices they made and they may not think to prioritize giving you the opportunity to take a crack at the solution I wanted to get the most out of working with this kind of team member is to be mindful that it's easy to start learning on them too hard when you get stuck because you know that will just get you on unstuck quickly and you want to be sitting there feel like your brain is nothing for too long so just be mindful they're staying engaged and active in the hunt for the solution when you work with them the teacher will probably be prompting you to figure out the answers for yourself as you working in encouraging you to make the key decisions even if that means you sometimes and wondering about that ends this helps you truly grasp where the best solution is the best solution the teacher will help people that rock solid foundation and and the true understanding of what you're building at the end of the day you know being on a team with people who want help you figure things out are invested in your growth is really what you're looking for and to help with that the how people review your code yes it can be uncomfortable and yes you might be called out in a fairly public waiver doing something pretty strange but doing getting critical input about the code that you're writing will make you better more mindful developer it teaches you new techniques that you may not have known a watcher how to use and it teaches you not to push a code that you have reviewed yourself here helped you on your spidey sense about what's good or at least good enough and what's not that makes you a stronger person when your pairing with your team members yeah when you have opportunities to pair make sure you're driving as often as possible Billy advocates strongly for this even if the problem you working on his over your head and actually especially when the problem is over your head you should be the 1 who's doing the typing you'll absorb so much more and much more conscious of what's going on when you're the 1 actually writing the code working on a problem it's tough to get your head around with someone when someone else's typing is can be brutally hard to follow for hours on end and even despite your best efforts it's easy accidently slip out of being engaged you need absolutely be actively engaged in participating in what's happening the driving also give you more opportunities to nail down keyboard shortcuts and solidify good workflow processes that also gives you a lot of opportunities to ask questions this seems really obvious but it can be really hard to do so if you're confused or lost face so hearing or working solo don't let yourself get away with not letting Aquino and something is unclear or you're confused it can be really hard to admit that you are following a conversation a concept that say nothing implies that you understand and I can get you into trouble asking questions sooner than later keep you moving forward on new tasks and keeps you from wasting time being confused and frustrated the team would rather make sure you understand something now rather than having to explain it to you in hours or days have been spent trying to be start spinning your wheels on it already and when you get an explanation be sure to write everything down do your best to make sure that your team members don't have to explain the same thing over and over this a problem those will probably have to happen occasionally they will have to explain things to you repeatedly sometimes that do whatever you can to minimize how often that needs to happen and for the times and you are carrying writing out the steps you need to go through on tasks for you start them gives you an opportunity to make sure you really understand the story working on and have a game plan about where to start and where you wanna end up having this roadmap will also help if you need to explain where you are in the process in the event you need pull someone and you're working you're getting established on your team there will likely be certain languages or parts of the stack become more naturally you that rate and really work hard to get a lot then but don't let the areas that are quite so easy and keep pushing yourself to understand them even if you don't do that work is frequently pushing yourself outside of your comfort zone is really important so I'm sure you've all seen some form of learning to program charters like this steep initial like in all the things in the of it is like very steep downturn of all my god what's going on and then there's this sort of a long drawn-out battle the figure it out and they're sort of common this gradual ascent into being of magical was a developer and this making education charges on them if you representations of this curve because it really hits on the emotional roller coaster so that I associate least with each 1 of these phases so at my office at at the pretty funny conversations about the desert of despair just like that long sad section in the middle and some and how it's going to be in the upswing of some in at least 1 area so you have like a safety net and so there's this place you can go and work effectively and feel like you're making solid contributions to the team but you still have to be comfortable and feel OK about heading back down into the desert to learn more things like you have to know as a junior you have to know that you can get stuck in the desert work your way out but on summer sunscreen and happily wonder back in again because frankly test the chop if you've never been down there you can't really know this is occurring on at the end so the take away from that is don't be terror don't be afraid to be terrible at something sometimes you have to be willing to spend some time being bad it before you can get good at it and help make sure that happens traders that learning objectives for yourself it's really easy to get complacent just stick to the things that are comfortable and makes sense because the does it's a tough thing to the that part of part b down there begin your bike appropriately but it feels so much better to be doing things you understand well but if you say Z golden assignments of homework you can help you make sure that you're keeping up learning momentum and keep stretching himself had your comfort zone and that means you have to continue learning outside of the office if you hit something at work you don't know about a little more if there's something you're interested in but are doing their work FIL of all these projects the you places to make and break things without worry about burning to company time as well as giving you code the you 100 per cent on and opportunities to techniques that might not be practical on larger projects for a May because people aiming at me that's will come and help you and last but not least yeah be kind to yourself so we talked about how important human connections on getting a solid start as a junior but don't forget about the social investments you're making in yourself this is a career path that is full of learning peaks plateaus and valleys and sometimes they can feel pretty brutal out there what 9 whether might not be terribly obviously you work with more experienced engineers is that everyone has felt that way at some point and insisted eventually have the experience and understanding the upcoming challenges as an adventure rather than a blockade when you start your 1st job it can be a huge shock of to find out how draining writing code for 8 hours straight A's and there are times and you find the head over 5 hot back online and spend a few hours on your own project that you just can't 1 muster the energy to do it that's OK really the it can be hard to make yourself take time off when it seems like so many people eat drink and breathe code they keep this in mind this is a marathon and it's likely that they've been training a lot longer than you have it takes time to build up that endurance so take rest days let yourself unplugged think of it is mental cross-training taking breaks and being mindful for signs of burnout and making time the things outside of code that you love make you star developer finding the balance of work learning and life that works best for you will make you a happier healthier person and that leaves over and all the other social investment that you make from successful networking defining a mentor to invest time in your learning to lining place on your 1st team taking care of yourself will have a positive impact on everything else this dear bands and those of you who have some and you lose some
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Title Strategies for being the Junior on the Team
Title of Series RailsConf 2015
Part Number 12
Number of Parts 94
Author Barrett, Louisa
License CC Attribution - ShareAlike 3.0 Unported:
You are free to use, adapt and copy, distribute and transmit the work or content in adapted or unchanged form for any legal and non-commercial purpose as long as the work is attributed to the author in the manner specified by the author or licensor and the work or content is shared also in adapted form only under the conditions of this license.
DOI 10.5446/30707
Publisher Confreaks, LLC
Release Date 2015
Language English

Content Metadata

Subject Area Information technology
Abstract Bootcamps and other non-traditional education options are producing junior developers that can't wait to jump into their first jobs, but many teams are still figuring out how to successfully onboard people whose skills are solidifying and may be hesitant to add a junior to the group. As a junior, how do you go about finding a place for yourself? From thinking through what type of company may be the best fit to strategizing how to find a mentor to help guide you, this talk will discuss what you can do to make sure you get your career off on the right foot.


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