How much I learnt from junior developers
The original article has been published on published on my personal blog on Kinja (Gawker Media Sites, Gizmodo, Lifehacker). I decided to reprint it here.
The elderly can learn from youngster developers. Here’s how!
There’s surprisingly little difference between a candidate with six months of experience and one with six years. The real difference comes from the individual’s dedication, personality, and intelligence. —Rework by Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson
During pair-programming sessions on the project I’m working on or, more generally, working with other colleagues I came to realize that junior badge has nothing to do with experience. You can learn tons from, one could tell, the least experienced people.
The young and ‘good ol’ times’ cliche
Let’s face it, guys in their early twenties got access to personal computers (does anyone use PC term now?) before you did. Some of them don’t remember the world without Facebook or YouTube. For them, when you start posting stupid demotivators about ‘good ol’ times’ you sound like a dinosaur. It’s as if a caveman of the old generation fretted about past days without brand new wheel technology. You get it.
Instead of feeling ashamed, not good enough, or being afraid of losing safety job (youngster can be faster, you know), start to value each member of the team. Let me give you a few examples of what I learnt from younger colleagues.
Maciej used to say: ‘show me the network panel’ when error 500 occurred. I tended to switch to Rails server, which wasn’t bad, but some contexts benefited from Maciej’s approach. With time I got into the habit to reach the network panel first, which is sometimes faster than scrolling output in Rails server.
Before working with Maciej I did not use Postman at all. The tool I discovered while working with Maciej made me testing APIs in a more reliable way.
Apart from workflow and tooling I had to learn a lot how to be patient and how to blunt my perfectionism, let alone confronting myself with being not good enough. Fortunately over the past few months I transformed my thinking into 1 + 1 = 3 synergistic approach.
Michal, who has joined the Selleo crew recently reassured me that following Steve Jobs famous quote: stay hungry, stay foolish always pays off. When you know that anyone has something to share, you’re standing on the bright side and can learn from any situation.
‘You can use z plugin from zsh which is faster’, Michal once told me. The tool which he actually learnt from another Michal proves that knowledge ‘circulate’ in the environment you work in provided that the environment cultivates knowledge sharing. If competition, not co-operation were more important, a guy that just have finished high school could not see any value in sharing the tip with Mr. Wojtek, a dude with some fancy developer label.
There are only few examples of what I learnt from younger colleagues. Being passionate about lifelong learning this post is another incentive for you to start sharing what you know. You will be amazed of how much you, your company, and the (dev) community may benefit from this.
Ways to suck experience out
Is pair programming the only way to suck out experience from other people? Let’s see.
‘What’s up? What new doodad did you learn yesterday?’ questions start my day when I’m arriving at the office and greeting with colleagues. Recently I stop for a while at Pawel’s desk who became a Vim aficionado and dude I discovered tmux from. Sometimes this very short experience barter is enough to solve a problem I could not for last few days.
Dinner, short trip to the kitchen, or just the time when you enter the office is perfect to inhale new skills and solutions you’re after. The notion of the fact that more and more fresh blood will flood your company can be intimidating. This is the paradigm shift we all have to deal with. Either you fall back on ‘good ol’ days’ excuses or harness the power of synergy where each team member is a leader you can learn from.
Pawel is not a junior, if you’re wondering. Despite the fact he’s younger than me, when taking into account commercial experience it’s me that could be labeled as junior.