I have recently started a position as a Junior Developer with an agency. I have two years experience in my language and the only reason I took a junior position again was because I felt I had more to learn to succeed at mid-level. My last position was very relaxed. I very rarely had to work to deadlines, issue tracking was virtually non-existent and I was allowed to learn as I worked without issue. Not to mention that I was previously an in-house dev and my new role is client work (new features, maintenance of existing projects etc).

My new position uses very strenuous issue tracking with most tickets requiring time estimates for clients. I have a schedule sent through every day which outlines how many hours I spend per client. Devs use a time tracker to enter what tasks and tickets they have completed throughout the day. This is where I am struggling to adjust.

Several of my tickets clock in several hours over teammate's estimates for a start. This job is also certainly more challenging in the nature of the work, and while I have been trying to get to grips, I can find myself stuck on an issue for quite some time. Members of my team are almost always fighting fires away from their desks, and while I can Slack or email for help, I can be left waiting hours before I am able to proceed with tickets.

I thought the idea of me taking a junior role was mentorship and help where possible, but it doesn't appear to be easily forthcoming and I feel as though it could be a matter of time before clients or my manager start to take notice. What can I do to get back on track?

EDIT: I have been in this new position for one month

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    Are your teammates estimating how long something will take and then are people expecting you to do it in the same time? Or are they estimating how long they think it will take you, and you're taking much longer? – Erik Dec 5 '17 at 8:07
  • With regards to Erik comment: the core question is - is there actually a hard expectation for you to finish within the given estimation - or is it just that, an estimation that may take longer, especially if a junior is doing the tasks. I've had a company where it was the norm the be slightly over the estimations and very rarely below. It was common and accepted - though if there was much of a discrepancy that was rather seen as an indication that the estimations need to be adjusted rather than the developers being scolded. – Frank Hopkins Dec 5 '17 at 16:28
  • I was in a situation like this before, a coworker gave me the tip to list at the end of the day everything I learned then to share it on the next follow up meeting with my peers to show progression. I think the key is communicate your personal progress. We sometime forget how it is tough to start a new position. – Sebastien DErrico Dec 5 '17 at 16:51
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    I experienced the samething when I was getting started. Over time I began to see that the businesses that actively recruited juniors are more in more seeking to take advantage rather than nurture. They bring upon you higher expectations but reward with less pay. While I wish I could give you great solid advice that would make life easier. The only really thing I can say is not to give a crap. It is truly their problem. A true senior developer would look at your work and say "good job" no matter what others say. So they most likely don't have anyone who's any good, and that's not your fault. – user7360 Dec 5 '17 at 17:39

Talk to them. I've been in a role where work was billed to clients, and as such the time I spent on something had to be accounted for so management could count them beans and make sure we billed the client as many beans as we used in making it. whilst it always sounds good, it never quite worked so there were many fudge factors applied to the timescales we worked to. What you're probably finding is that the time you're allocated is just an estimate, and there are plenty of contingency time so the company doesn't suffer.

But it can still be daunting to find that you've been given 4 hours to do some work and it takes you longer. All that means is the original estimate was wrong.

Now some methodologies feed the time actually taken back into the system to modify future estimates so eventually they come out right - but my knowledge of agencies is that this doesn't matter, they just want lots of work done in as short a time as possible.

So what can you do, apart from realise its not your fault. You can, when blocked, put a ticket to one side and pick up another while waiting for help. You can note on the time tracker the amount of time spent waiting for help. You can return tickets to the queue if they are more difficult that expected and there is no help available. You can also talk to your manager or lead to say that you're not experienced with the system and thus unable to work as fast as expected on it. Chances are, they'll know this, and will either give you more time to work on them or will ensure you have extra time to spend on "training" (aka figuring things out on your own, like you're doing anyway!)

So, ultimately the answer is to talk to your colleagues. If they still expect you to work like a dog and do everything faster than possible, it is time to move on - agencies can be the worst work environment possible. they pay better IMHO, but when I was hiring, the number of CVs received from those wanting to get out of agency companies was significant.

  • Yes, multi-task where possible – Kilisi Dec 5 '17 at 8:07

You could work harder, spend your personal time honing your skills and gaining experience.

Jobs like yours are carnivorous, they eat people, so while they're great for learning and performing under pressure they have a high turnover of juniors especially.

You either stick it out and try your best for 6 months until people realise you might be there to stay and provide some solid value and take you out of the sink-or-swim mode.

Or you fold and go. One problem with staying you might find, is that the better you get, the more work is piled on. But usually as you adjust to the pace and the place it smooths out. So if you see that happening then you need to concentrate on absorbing as much experience as possible and leave before you burn out, usually a couple of years in my experience.


Let me be the first to tell you taking a Junior role in no ways means you will be mentored.

When I graduated, I got a job right out of school working in mainframe software development. My employer knew I had never worked on a mainframe before and said I would be trained on the job. I was not. It was up to me to put the time in and learn. That being said, I did struggle in the beginning. They knew and they were ok with that. What they wanted to see was progress.

Everyday I learned something and got better at my job. There eventually came a point where I became comfortable and started calling some of the shots. Being in a junior role just means they expect to see you improve. It is O.K that you are not performing at the same level as your colleague, it would be foolish to assume you could just jump right in as a junior. All they want to see is that you are better at the job today than you were yesterday.

Some of the best knowledge I gain was from beating my head against a wall for hours trying to find a solution. Had I just asked someone and got an answer, I wouldn't fully understand the scope of the problem or the answer. Keep doing you best and put in some of your own time. I was taking mainframe books home everyday and studying them when I first started.

If you do need to ask a question, and you will, put time into trying to find it out before you ask. There is nothing people hate more than a junior who asks before they look. Try to figure it out and ask the question like this:

Hi Mike, I was looking into issue X and I am a bit stumped at first I thought it because of Y and that lead me to Z. Am I on the right path?

When you ask a question that clearly shows effort, people are more apt to answer it promptly because they feel you are trying. I know I try to make time for people who have clearly demonstrated they are actively trying. If you just emailed me saying I need help with X, you will wait until I have time. That could potentially be never. Once I see the effort, I will make the time.

  • "Mentoring" in my experience typically means "Welcome to CompanyX, here are the manuals/documentation/google, I expect to see results by the end of the week" – bluegreen Dec 6 '17 at 19:53

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