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I am in the position of Architect/Lead Developer and I have one junior developer on my team.

In the last few months we were delivering projects under tight deadlines so I was struggling to find tasks that can be delegated to allow the junior to learn while still keeping the schedule. In the cases where I did, I spent as much time explaining the work and providing guidance as I would doing them myself.

I'm (and my manager) OK with this person not contributing in a significant way to the current project. I'm worried that he is not learning. From my experience, the best way to learn something is to have a real task to do, with real obstacles to overcome.

What are things we can do that will first provide this person chance to learn by doing and err, second keep the additional load on me reasonable and distant third potentially produce something of value in our projects?

I'm thinking of launching a side project with a more "asset building" profile and no tight deadlines, and alternatively to sending the developer to help the test team with test automation.

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Yes, it is good to have hands on real world application development in early stages of career.

There are always some tasks that can be delegated for try out. Examples are

  1. Code Refactoring, Small Change Requests and bug fixes
  2. Technical debt - updating libraries used, research about using new language features
  3. Can help in writing part of code say method of other team members that can be worked independently
  4. Some UI/UX fixes, UI alignment issues
  5. Unit test case writing, improving code coverage, code analysis
  6. Testing application - it gives feel of how application functions
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As a still fairly early career professional myself I think the most important thing you can do for people starting out is inspire and motivate them. I'd advise caution against giving somebody only tasks like documentation, bug-fixing, manual UI-testing and logging, especially to us poor little millennials. Of course if your company needs to get this stuff done then someone has to do it, and as a member of them team the junior developer will need to do their fair share. But if you don't give somebody something stimulating to sink their teeth into eventually they will leave, speaking from experience here.

As to what to do I would allocate some time to pair programming and and having them do this with various people. There will be tasks which then popup throughout this interaction which can then be allocated to the junior dev. Also include this person in meetings even if they are just a spectator. I've learnt allot by just watching the pros interact, the language they use, what's important, risks and concerns in projects and so on.

Just a little note too I feel that as a professional it's everybody's duty for their industry to help train the next generation, as we all benefit from some more experienced person than us investing time in us. This junior developer may not be able to help with this project at all. But definitely the next. However one day when they are a senior developer and they are the manager of the project, they will remember what you did for them when they were joining their first project and do the same (;

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How's the (warning: ugly word rarely seen in most companies follows) documentation at your place? Assuming your company will keep this person around despite a small pipeline of future work and excellent learning tool would be to turn this person into a pocket BA and have him reverse-document existing processes that you feel they would need to know to tackle future projects.

  • Unfortunately at the moment we do not have to much to document. We are doing pure project work with fairly new (to us) technology so until we have more projects done it would be hard to spot a pattern to document. But it is a good idea when applicable. – AGrzes Apr 8 '18 at 19:23
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    The person in question is a developer. Relegating them to position of "documenter" is a diss - it's saying that you don't want/trust him to code. IMO not a good idea. – Vector Apr 9 '18 at 3:46

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