A Letter to Our New Junior Developer

April 28, 2020 · 2 min read

Silver MacBook turned on Photo by Fabian Grohs on Unsplash

Dear junior.

Welcome to your new team! This first year will be overwhelming. You’ll learn so many new things that it will blow your mind every day for the first few weeks. You’ll probably be tired each evening when you come home. That’s okay. There is so much to learn for you.

It will appear as if there is a mountain of things you need to understand before you can be helpful to your team. This is not true. Your team is welcoming you. They know how it feels like to be new. How it feels like to struggle with the technologies and the pace that things are done. They will give you tasks that provide value.

Don’t be afraid.

Don’t be afraid to ask questions.

We may seem busy. But you can always come over and ask anyone of us what we are up to. Ask us what we are doing, and if you can look over our shoulders to learn. Some of us love to explain what we’re up to. Ask questions about how things work, why they work, and why we do them in that specific and weird way. Pair with team members of different skill levels. You’ll learn from everyone.

Always respect your colleagues’ time. We’ll tell you when we are free to help. Don’t be discouraged when we need to finish something before we have time for you.

Don’t be afraid to tell us what you think.

Always listen more than you talk (even as a senior). Tell us your idea, concern or opinion. In our team, we judge ideas. Not people.

Don’t be afraid by all these unknown technologies, frameworks, deployment pipelines, or tooling.

They grew in a long process that started ages before you got here. You’ll figure it out, eventually. Each issue you run into, each question you ask, and each commit you do will contribute to your knowledge. Sometimes it will feel like you didn’t to anything worth your money for days. That’s okay. Even seniors have this occasionally. That will get better, too. When you’re stuck, ask questions and try to get someone to help you in a 1-on-1. Learn how to get the most out of code reviews.

Your first year will be overwhelming. But you’ll get through this. We went through all this, too. As long as you are curious and seek to make progress each week, you’ll be fine.

Btw: we’re all fighting with impostor syndrome.

Things will get easier with time. With more experience, more and more problems that come your way will seem familiar. And even for the unfamiliar ones you will know a place to start working on them. The more senior you become, the more your new problems will become old problems in disguise.