If you go around and ask 100 people what is the hottest industry to work for right now, you might get all different kinds of answers, from live streaming to cryptocurrency to online education. But you will definitely notice one thing, and that is it all surrounds the broad term of “Technology”. Being part of the tech industry is no longer just the stereotypical silicon valley jobs but have branched out to all sorts of different field, whether it is entertainment, automotive, education, health care, retail or finance. The demand for software engineers, web developers, mobile app developers are rising by the day and more people are switching career paths to hop on this trend.
However, it is not always an easy path for people to do so, jumping into the tech world from another industry may be overwhelming. Junior developers or engineers often need a lot of training, guidance and support for them to be successful, while senior developers or engineers are hard to come by. If you are in the position of hiring or have hired some junior developers or engineers, in this article, we will discuss how you can set them up for success and make the best out of their skills to benefit your business.
Let’s define success first, to me, success is not just how many codes they can write or how many projects I can throw at them at the same time. To me, success is how much they are learning and if they can contribute to the project in a meaningful way. If they are learning and can apply what they learn and contribute to the project, I believe that is considered a success.
So how exactly do you set up junior team members for success? To me, these are some methods I experienced that were helpful.
Provide training sessions for your new or junior team members will not only increase their productivity but also reduce the turnover rate of your team members. In many cases, companies provide training sessions that are tailored towards more senior members with the introduction of the newest technologies or frameworks, which are sometimes very confusing for junior developers. Make sure you also have training sessions for your junior members of the team.
Be available for questions.
Junior developers will have a lot of questions. Make yourself available to answer them, often times a quick answer can help them deeply. Make them feel comfortable asking you questions. In many cases, one ticket may have a dozen different ways to tackle it, different companies and different developers may have different opinions on what is the best solutions. Simply letting the junior developers know what are the expectations of this company or this project can save them and you a lot of time.
Depending on the situation, don’t straight up give them the answer. I understand that sometimes, there is an urge for senior developers to just type out that couple lines of code, send it over on Slack and tell the junior developers to copy and paste it. But that doesn’t always help the junior developers. They might not understand it and will not know how to fix it the next time something similar happens. Direct them to the right place to find the answers themselves or explain what the code means will help them learn and do better next time.
Finding a solution online to a given problem is an everyday job for all developers, knowing where and what to look for, however, is a skill that needs to be built over time, guiding junior developers on how to find answers can help them learn and also reduce the times they ask you for help.
Pair a more senior developer with a junior developer especially when they are new to the team. Yes, it might seem counterintuitive at first, but junior developers can learn very quickly when having hands-on experience with a more experienced developer. Engages the junior developer in actively finding solutions to problems.
Pair programming can also significantly reduce the time spent on setting up the correct environments. In my experience, different projects often have similar yet slightly different ways of setting up the environment correctly, and without help, a junior developer may have to spend a lot of time trying to figure things out, and we all know that can be one, frustrating, and two, not productive as you can’t work on anything else if the environment is not set up properly.
Review the code together.
When a junior engineer completes a task, spend a little time going over their code with them, ask them to explain their work, give them credit if they did well and explain to them where they should do differently. Sometimes, you might even learn something from this process.
This next section is for junior engineers, you can’t only rely on other people for your success. You might be freshly out of a Bootcamp or have been learning on your own, but here are some tips you can help yourself in being successful in a new job.
Read a lot of code.
Read what other team members are doing, read code reviews online, read solutions on stack overflow, try to understand them. You might not be able to duplicate the code right away when you need to, but it would be much easier for you to find the solution when the situation arises.
Learn on your own.
This depends on your situation and your available time both at work and off work, but do what you can. There are countless free resources available when it comes to software, web development, there are also plenty of cheap tutorials, sessions and camps. Find a credible one and do some studying on what you are working on. Unlike before, you now have actual projects on hand and these tutorials are best at filling in gaps of knowledge from what you learn on Stack overflow or W3 schools.
Bring something else to the table.
So far we’ve pretty much all focus on coding and programming skills, but there is definitely more to that to be successful as a junior engineer. For example, improve on your communication skills, work on your presentation skills and bring in new ideas to the table when appropriate. These are all valuable skills that can benefit the team and the project.
Lastly, there will always be moments when you doubt yourself as a junior engineer, you might question yourself if you belong in this world if you are going to get fired for not knowing how to do this one task. This happens to all junior engineers, especially if you enter this world from another realm. The way to get over this feeling is to understand that you have the ability to learn and grow. Every mistake you make is an opportunity to learn about more things, every task you get stuck on is an opportunity to learn.
In conclusion, being a successful junior engineer is a collective effort, if we can all work together and help each other, junior engineers can thrive and be a very valuable asset to the company.