DEV Community πŸ‘©β€πŸ’»πŸ‘¨β€πŸ’»

DEV Community πŸ‘©β€πŸ’»πŸ‘¨β€πŸ’» is a community of 966,904 amazing developers

We're a place where coders share, stay up-to-date and grow their careers.

Create account Log in
Andrew Smith
Andrew Smith

Posted on

Do you ever get frustrated with your Junior Developer(s)?

Having recently started a new internship as a Junior Software Developer, I can't help but feel like I (significantly) annoy everyone with my (very) frequent questions.

Don't get me wrong, I know in myself that it's a necessity to ask questions as a Junior Dev, because after all that's how you learn and gain experience, right? So I understand that I am not in the wrong by asking questions, but I often do wonder, does this get annoying for the people (most often Senior Devs) answering my questions? After all I'm taking them from their time pressured work, I'm asking them to explain something that I'm finding difficult but they probably can do in their sleep and I'm generally taking time from their day.

So my question is, do you ever get frustrated with your Junior Developer?

Top comments (72)

Collapse
 
dougrday profile image
Doug Day • Edited on

I think it only gets annoying when you ask the same questions again and again. This tells me that you were using me as a crutch rather than as a teacher.

Otherwise, I love it when developers ask me questions. I can help them find the best ways to solve problems, helping them learn from my mistakes.

So, the problem isn't asking questions at all. The problem is asking me the same question more than once (usually in a slightly different form or situation).

Collapse
 
itzsaga profile image
Seth

While I'm new to web development, I spent 10 years in hospitality. This encapsulates what I told many new employees. "There's no dumb questions the first time."

Collapse
 
adnanrahic profile image
Adnan Rahić

This has to be the single best explanation of how to behave as a junior dev I've ever read.

Collapse
 
patrictrollope profile image
Patric Trollope

Spot on. Also, if you have source code to work from, read it first,then you can ask relevant questions related to the work.

If you haven't bothered to try and read the code, you will have no context, you will have put in any effort and you would not have had the opportunity to learn from others code.

Collapse
 
tensaga profile image
TENsaga • Edited on

As a new Jr. Dev who asks the odd question (and tries to ask as few as possbile), this makes me feel much better. Thank you!

I take a lot of notes, anything that I ask or lookup myself I write down to review later.

Collapse
 
dougrday profile image
Doug Day

:) The main thing is that you've demonstrated you're putting in your side of the work to learn. If you're putting in the work and your senior developer is still annoyed, they are the problem, not you.

Collapse
 
dvanherten profile image
Dave van Herten

This is good advice in general. With how much there is to know in development I find I'm a senior and a junior all rolled up in one depending on the topic.

So I guess my point is don't forget this when you start to feel like a senior in one area. It still applies for the areas you are not as strong in.

Collapse
 
rossbates profile image
Ross Bates

Don't be worried about asking questions, even if you are asking a ton of them. The biggest red flag to me is when developers don't ask questions.

I've been in your shoes before, and the biggest mistake I made was not being restrained in the way that I asked questions. Anytime a question popped into my head I would immediately seek out someone to ask. It was impulsive behavior caused by 2 things.

One, the desire to learn. Just being young and super excited to soak it all in. Two, using questions as a way to show my mentors how excited I was.

Here's what I would recommend you do. Collect all the questions you have over the course of the day. Then, approach your manager/mentor at the right time and say "hey, I've got a list of questions I'd love to discuss when you have some time we could block out."

Using this approach you'll give yourself time to organize your thoughts. Also, some of your questions might become irrelevant or answer themselves. The biggest payoff is you'll look more professional to the team by demonstrating respect for others time/focus, while still getting to ask all the questions you want.

You can follow this up by saying something to the effect of "hey, this was really helpful and I appreciate you taking the time. Would it be possible to setup something on a reoccurring basis?"

Good luck!

Collapse
 
gregsdennis profile image
Greg Dennis

My advice? Get used to the feeling. I just joined a new company as a senior dev about a month ago. I still ask a lot of questions. They're using systems I've never used before, and they have a process I've never seen before. Asking questions is how you integrate. Not being afraid to ask is a good trait. Keep it up.

As far as being annoying, I can't speak for your team, but in my experience, they're likely busy. Context switching can be hard, but it's necessary when you're bringing in new talent. Give it some time. You'll find that you ask fewer questions, and you may start answering some as well.

Collapse
 
damcosset profile image
Damien Cosset

Sometimes, there is a little frustration if I am in the middle of something and I am interrupted. I don't think anybody like that feeling. But, we all go through the same process, so I quickly remind myself where I come from, and it is only a natural thing to do when you are a junior dev. It's important for the junior devs to feel like they can ask questions all the time, especially if they think it's a stupid question.

Collapse
 
groogs profile image
Greg MacLellan

I find this had a lot to do with how you're asked. Interrupting someone in person while they're working interrupts flow. Catching them while they are talking a break (coffee, bathroom or just taking a walk) is much better.

Even better (IMHO), asking in a group chat room is non-obtrusive, and someone else can answer sooner if they know. On top of that, it's going to help other people who can read the conversation.

Collapse
 
damcosset profile image
Damien Cosset

Totally agree with that!

Collapse
 
morgboer profile image
Riaan Pietersen

I like this approach... Just remember to let the group know it got sorted so others don't waste their time ;)

Collapse
 
ben profile image
Ben Halpern • Edited on

Yes, I do get frustrated with junior developers... when they don't ask those questions. I love filling in people's knowledge gaps with "simple" questions because it's an opportunity to share knowledge and maybe reaffirm to myself that I actually do know what I'm talking about.

That being said, I'm not always great at showing that I'm available for questions and sometimes I'm busier than other times. But if I'm ignoring you, it probably means I didn't see the notification and I'm stuck in some deep work, but when I tell you I don't mind if you poke me again when I forgot to get back to you yesterday, I mean it.

I also don't have a ton of patience for pair programming, and that's just me, and it has nothing to do with being annoyed with anyone. Some people love to jump on things and are, frankly, more helpful to juniors. I'm more introverted and my capacity to help for extended periods of time is not the best. But even despite this, I love the questions, and will look to get you the help.

So for me, the bottom line is that I don't get annoyed with this, and absolutely prefer it to the other extreme, but I'm still not always totally available to be helpful. That's just life. And ultimately, any time someone has asked me how to ask me questions, we've always gained clarity together. So I'd suggest getting some clarity on what a good approach is. I think people typically tell the truth when asked that question.

I'll also add I don't get that annoyed if you aren't asking the questions. Really you do you as long as you're trying your best and being a team player.

Collapse
 
tristandyer profile image
Tristan Dyer

I have recently started forcing myself to not wear headphones. Which can be a problem, but O find that people will avoid asking any questions if you appear in the zone or focused.

I view it as part of my role as a sr to answer questions. I pad all of my estimates knowing that I expect 2-3 hours per day to go to helping others.

Collapse
 
nimmo profile image
Nimmo • Edited on

Junior devs frustrate me when they:

1: Refer to their lack of knowledge constantly ("I'm just a junior") - don't do this! Lack of experience doesn't mean your opinion is worth less. Also, the more you remind people that you're "just a junior", the longer people will treat you as one, even after you don't feel it's true any more.

2: Don't ask enough questions, or don't ask questions early enough - if you give me the impression you understand something, then I'm going to imagine that you do. But if you make it clear that you don't understand something, I'm going to make sure that you do! This is a tough one of course, because I know that as a junior developer, it's often hard to know whether you understand something or not, and as a mentor I have a lot of responsibility for not letting you feel like you have to pretend to understand things.

3: Want something done for them, rather than wanting to learn how to do something - pretty obvious one but when mentoring junior developers, you're not there to do their work, you're there to help them grow. Thankfully I've only ever experienced this with one junior developer ever, and I'm pretty sure that this is an uncommon issue on the whole in software engineering.

Senior devs frustrate me when they:

1: Forget that they were junior developers once too.

I think every senior dev can probably recall a time when they were junior devs, and their own mentors (or just senior devs around them) would get frustrated by their questions. I certainly do. If you feel people are getting frustrated by your questions, perhaps gently remind them that you weren't born with a knowledge of the things you're asking about; hopefully they'll remember that they weren't either. :-)

Collapse
 
ben profile image
Ben Halpern

Senior devs frustrate me when they:
1: Forget that they were junior developers once too.

Yes! And it's easy to do in the moment, but it's something you should be consistently checking yourself on.

Collapse
 
nimmo profile image
Nimmo

Oh yeah, I'm not saying I'm immune to this. If you're in the middle of something and you're being asked questions frequently, feeling a tinge of irritation is natural and often unavoidable. But yeah, as you say, you need to keep that in check and make sure that you don't make people feel like it's "unsafe" to ask for help.

Collapse
 
Sloan, the sloth mascot
Comment deleted
Collapse
 
nimmo profile image
Nimmo

It's a funny balance isn't it. I encourage absolute honesty about your own level of knowledge, in the sense that I 100% believe that it's totally fine to say "you know what, I have no idea", about anything, because everyone has gaps in their knowledge.

But the reason I discourage people from constantly reminding others that they're "new" or "junior" etc. is that when people do that, other people have less faith in them; often team leaders / project managers / whatever will end up avoiding giving people "tricky" bits of work if those people are actively suggesting to people that they're less capable, and that really just perpetuates the problem!

So yeah, I guess what I'm saying on that one is just be open, but not apologetic, about what you do and don't know. And that's advice for everyone, not just junior software engineers. :-)

Awesome that you tell people the same thing; genuinely pleased to hear that sort of message coming from other places too!

Collapse
 
bgadrian profile image
Adrian B.G.

Most times I got angry was when they didn't asked a question, they thought they knew how to do something, and did it wrong, and I had to clean it up.

Too many questions no, except when they don't use google before :)
Bad: "How I should do that (simple thing)?"
Good: "How I should do that? this way or that way?" -- means you did the research, you understood something and ask for more details.

Ofc every problem has more good solutions, but it matters how we do things HERE, now, in this team and in this project.

Recently I learned more about how team compositions work better, and what kinds of devs should be paired with juniors

Collapse
 
singque09 profile image
Jolambert Garcia Singque • Edited on

I usually get this a lot, the bad ones i mean.

Most likely some juniors want you to code their whole task, LOL

Collapse
 
cschmitz81 profile image
CS

TBH, if a senior dev gets annoyed with jrs asking questions or for help they're not really a senior dev in my opinion. Part of a senior dev's skill set should be the ability and desire to help jr devs grow. If you can't do that you have a skill to work on.

Collapse
 
stefannibrasil profile image
Stefanni Brasil

Great answer!

Collapse
 
yawaramin profile image
Yawar Amin

Actually, I am a little obsessed with how to train junior developers the right way so they can avoid the pitfalls I experienced and grasp the more advanced concepts as easily as possible. So, if I ever happen to answer your questions, you might find me taking some time to really think through and consider several different ways to try to find the best way to answer!

Collapse
 
ben profile image
Ben Halpern

Yes. The teachers are just as self-aware and sometimes self-critical.

Collapse
 
gyandeeps profile image
Gyandeep Singh

I want junior devs to ask questions. I feel more confident on a topic if I can explain that to a junior dev and he/she understands it. :)

Something I expect from not just junior dev but rather any dev, before asking question always do your "Due Diligence". After a few years of experience its really easy to tell when a person has done some work before asking me a question.

This is most important factor me personally. I also follow this rule when I try to ask question to other people.

Collapse
 
kaisershahid profile image
kaiser shahid • Edited on

As a consultant for a long time I've had to field a lot of [dumb] questions from supposedly mid-level to senior devs. Questions that made me question if they know basic programming.

So, I don't find any questions annoying, assuming it's not "I don't know how to write a loop" from someone with supposedly +5 years of experience.

BTW, I've been programming for a long time, and at my new job I am asking a lot of questions. Just so I can make sure my work aligns with team practices and all that. Sorry if your senior devs are grumpy guys.

Collapse
 
samjarman profile image
Sam Jarman πŸ‘¨πŸΌβ€πŸ’»

I think its fine to ask if an only if:

  • You've put a solid 15 minutes into the problem first. Tried a few things and now are genuinely stuck.
  • Respectful of how the other person likes to be interrupted. Don't expect an instant reply.
  • Are respectful of the other persons (seniors) time - it's more valuable than yours. No offence, but it is.

Initiative and respect goes a long way as a junior. Use it!

Collapse
 
realedwintorres profile image
Edwin Torres

Andrew-

As a junior developer, especially an intern, you are SUPPOSED to ask questions. You are "junior" because you don't have practical experience as a developer. There is only so much you can learn in a classroom. That's why internships are so valuable. You can learn so much from the practical experience of coworkers, and they should do the right thing and help you (they were junior developers once). So never hesitate to lean on and learn from your coworkers.

That being said, you need to do your part. Here are some tips:

  • Take notes when other developers are answering your questions or sharing important information with you. Use Microsoft OneNote, Google Keep, or even a physical notepad.

  • Try to answer your own question first. Look at your notes, do Google searches, check StackOverflow. Make an effort to figure out the problem, because this is a valuable skill to build. However, don't spin your wheels. If you have no ideas on how to proceed, then don't waste your time. That's when you should ask for help.

  • When you questions, don't just ask them. Mention what you tried, why you tried it, why it's not working, and what you're thinking about trying next. Let the person know your thought process. Make it a two-way discussion right off the bat.

  • When you get answers, thank your coworkers. A simple, verbal "thank you!" is good enough. They take extra time out of their routines to help you. If you're grateful, they will be more likely to help you again. We generally like to help.

  • Apply what you've learned to future problems. Programming problems tend to have common challenges. You'll start to see how components of one solution will help you in other problems.

  • Don't forget that you can probably enlighten your coworkers too. You may be learning current technologies and techniques in school that they haven't seen or used yet. So be ready to share your knowledge with them too.

I know it's hard starting out, but we've all been there. If you meet someone who claims to know it all, they don't. There's always someone who knows more, and it's very difficult to memorize every construct in a programming language. Just keep at it. Soon, you'll have less questions and more answers. So remember to pay it forward and help future junior developers. Hope this helps.

Collapse
 
tmr232 profile image
Tamir Bahar

Haven't been frustrated with them yet. Will probably be if they give up and stop making progress.
Naturally, to make progress, they ask a lot of questions. And that is great. Knowledge should be shared, not held by those who got to it first.
Of course, I expect them to first try on their own - either to figure it out, or find an answer online. I am not Google, nor StackOverflow. Once they put some effort in, I am more than happy to help.
Juniors are a great way for me to grow as a mentor/teacher. They are also a great tool for detecting issues with the pre-existing, well, everything. Juniors don't know why things are as they are. So they ask. And should be encouraged to ask. Often, I find that the reason for something is no longer in effect, and the thing can or should be changed.

Just, you know, be kind. Be thoughtful. As happy as I may be answering your questions, I have my tasks as well. Respect others' time and effort, and you'll do just fine.

Collapse
 
smingleigh profile image
Custard Smingleigh

I love taking the time to help the junior members of my team. Teaching someone something new makes the team more capable and sometimes gives me an unexpected insight into an old problem from a junior developer's fresh eyes. After knowing junior developers who do nothing but ask questions and others who refused to ask questions when they needed help, I instituted the Thirty Minute Rule. If they ask for help before thirty minutes are up, they're cheating themselves out of valuable opportunities to work it out for themselves. If they don't ask for help after thirty minutes, they're probably just fruitlessly banging their head against a wall and only getting frustration and imposter syndrome out of it.

Update Your DEV Experience Level:

Settings

Go to your customization settings to nudge your home feed to show content more relevant to your developer experience level. πŸ›