I'm still in probation period along with other fresh grads together in a web company. We are often assigned by same tasks but do it individually. After we finish the tasks, our head of department will discuss our mistakes done and possible improvement for our done tasks during meetings. These meetings are also important for me because I personally think that this is the moment you prove your personal skills.

On the other side, I admit that I'm quite a social-type person that I actually maintain good relationship with the company's seniors because I know there are so much I can learn from them if they are willing to teach me. And of course I did learn a lot from them too.

Recently we were required to design a database and the database structure for a particular system is quite complex for me so I asked for suggestion from seniors. However, I decide to do in it my own way because I was confused by what seniors had suggested to me. During the recent meeting, we showed our database structure. During my turn, HOD mentioned that I must've ask seniors in order to design the database because he noticed that seniors always gather around my table spot and help me. The point is that the database structure is designed by me, although seniors did provide suggestions.

I'm concerned that most of my work will be viewed as the work from seniors since seniors really did provide suggestions and I have no idea how to prove that it is my actual code/idea. Is there anyway to prove that I really have certain skills rather than just completing my tasks with seniors aid?

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    it is better from a career point of view for social people to be seen as charismatic, easy to get along with and able to get other people involved in their tasks. that is what leadership is. you can fight to be seen as just a developer, but I think you'll reap better rewards being seen as a leader – bharal Aug 17 '18 at 5:32
  • Were the seniors present when he said that? What did they say? If not, perhaps if you mentioned it to them, they could mention it to him – Mawg says reinstate Monica Aug 17 '18 at 6:29
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    @Mawg they did not present during all the meetings just the fresh comers, and yes i did when i had such feelings – gitguddoge Aug 17 '18 at 6:32
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    I wouldn't worry too much. Generally, everyone is working towards the same goal, and that I snot to bring you down. just as you chat with the seniors, they chat with your boss or HOD, on equal terms. In fact, if you are good, they are probably praising you to him without you knowing it :-) – Mawg says reinstate Monica Aug 17 '18 at 6:45
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    Since you seem still new to StackOverflow, please have a look at the tour and help center. Comments should be used to suggest improvements, not for discussions. It's also customary to wait at least one day before accepting an answer. That way the chances of recieving more answers is higher. – Elmy Aug 17 '18 at 7:05

There is always a balance to find between letting others do your work and doing everything on your own. Where you find that balance is a matter of your own decision and your skill.

  • If you ask for help for literally every task, you will soon be seen as incompetend and a dreaded help vampire. From your description it doesn't sound like that's the case with you.
  • If you ask for advice and the best way to do something although you could come up with a (probably inferior) solution, your get into the situation you describe. You know about your skills, but to others it looks like you need a lot of help. You distract your colleagues from their actual tasks for a long time, but on the other hand, you learn the best way to do things without having to repeat rookie mistakes.
  • If you ask for examples of well designed databases or software code or whatever you are tasked to create, your colleagues need only a short while to provide you with an example, but you can still learn from your seniors expertise. This might prove difficult if they don't have any good examples at hand or even forgot where to find a particularily good example.
  • If you do a lot of research and learning on your own and only ask questions when you are stuck, your colleagues need to invest very little time in you, but your research might take longer and you might learn from outdated or otherwise unsuitable sources.
  • If you do everything an your own and don't ever ask colleagues (for whatever reason), you will probably get stuck sometimes. Your supervisors will eventually realize that you do not solve your problems proactively and that you need more supervision than others to get any result.

My personal experience is that you should only ask colleagues for help when you have concrete questions. Your task with the database was not concrete enough to be answered quickly, so your seniors gathered around your desk for quite some time. Time they should have spent on completing their own tasks. It probably would have been better to ask them for a guideline or an example of a well defined database to study and derive your own design from.

Asking seniors for help is not a sign of incompetence or lack of skill (especially if you are still in probation period and therefore supposed to learn). Just like completing a task without obvious help from a senior is no proof that you have a certain skill (you could have gotten help outside of work). The only way to prove your skills is to reliably deliver good quality in an acceptable amount of time. This cannot be done with a single task, it has to be done over time.

  • Totally agree with your 2nd and 4th point. Usually I won't ask for help that quick if I face some problems. I wandering around StackOverflow or some manuals. I only ask them if I really have no idea what's wrong with my program/code and hope for enlightenment as I prefer to get my hands dirty rather than spoon-feeding style help from seniors – gitguddoge Aug 17 '18 at 6:39
  • For the database structure design, I did design first with my own but I intend to improve the structure design in terms of performance efficiency since it could affect the productivity of company – gitguddoge Aug 17 '18 at 6:41

I don't think you need to prove anything.

Your manager will have spoke to the seniors to ask how much they helped you on this topic. They would give an honest answer as it benefits/affects them also, eg; if they're doing your work for you, in future they're going to have more work. Another example; If you designed it yourself in future they could learn from you and potentially you could help them with other things as you've shown potential.

If what you say is what happened, then you have nothing to worry about. Just say to your manager, I made the database myself with only suggestions from seniors. If you have any doubt you can ask them.

  • I don't worry about that my HOD suspicious about who done my work, I just feel that he may think in a way that I can do this because my senior helped me or I know how to design this database/apply this function because my senior told me in the rest of my office life – gitguddoge Aug 17 '18 at 6:30
  • And I worry that he may categorize me as less skillful member as – gitguddoge Aug 17 '18 at 6:31
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    well if he mentions it, simply say that you can do it again without help – Twyxz Aug 17 '18 at 6:39

Software development is team work.

You were designing a database. That design affects everyone. You are supposed to ask everyone involved to have a look at your design. Spending ten minutes having someone look at your design can save hundred hours work later. Four eyes see more than two. Actually, if you went ahead and implemented the database without checking first with anyone, no matter how junior or senior you are, I would be bloody angry with you.

The best thing is that you write a spec for the database, the way you think it should be, and then you send that spec out to everyone affected by the database design. Then you will get agreements, complaints, ideas about what you missed, ideas why your design doesn't work or creates extra work for everyone. That's what experienced developers do. They talk to each other, they communicate, and everybody is off better.

To your manager, it doesn't matter whether you got help with the design. As long as the design improved because of the help, he's fine with that. On the other hand, if you do it all on your own without asking for help or actively rejecting it, and then you produce a mess, then you are in trouble.


To address this particular situation:

HOD mentioned that I must've ask seniors in order to design the database

You might and probably should say something like:

Well, I get a lot of input from Bob and Alice, but decided to go my own way.

Probably, you need to be able to explain what was wrong with those suggestions. You definitely can't speak trust into existence, your HOD, if they are interested, will talk to seniors to figure out how much they helped you.

  • Yeah I did bring out that i did not apply what they had suggested and decided to go my own way because blah blah blah... but HOD seems to care more about i did ask for help rather than why I chose to design in my own way – gitguddoge Aug 18 '18 at 4:07

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