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I've recently started my first job as a programmer (I'm currently one month in) at quite a small company and for my first assignment I got paired with a senior developer to work on a minor project, sounded as a great start because they use Angular/typescript which I've never have worked with before and also need the mentoring for their methods.

The problem is that the senior (my mentor) is simultaneously working on a larger project that's due for deployment soon, so he dedicates all his time to this and is essentially leaving me alone in our project. Our mutual project are also waiting for back-end devs to create an API we are going to use, they are from a different company and rarely responds. So I've thought that when they are done the senior will start up our project, but none has communicated that to me so I can't be sure.

And the biggest problem for me is that this is a trial period at the company, so if they aren't satisfied with me I will not be employed full time, so the only one that will be hurting from this is me. But at the same time I feel like I was doomed from day one if this is how they work, cause there's no structure, no gameplan no leader or project management, just me and the absent senior dev. Even if it is a small project I would appreciate a Trello board for some guidance, now I have to guess what I should do each day.

I honestly can't wrap my head around this situation, I can't tell if I'm just whining and should take responsibility for my learning, though I'm coding at home as well and bought a udemy course for Angular to get the knowledge of the basics. Or if they dropped the ball with me and are currently failing to give me proper guidance and learning?

  • I get the impression you don't have any ticketing system, to-do lists, or even feature descriptions? No company can expect a junior to handle that by himself successfully. Perhaps you could contact your client or product owner (which could be the absent senior) and ask which features they want first? – Juha Untinen Oct 28 '18 at 22:37
  • Thanks for taking the time and answer! I did ask the senior what i should to while waiting for the back end a couple of weeks back and he becam a bit puzzled but said i should look into some features they had specified before i started working. So ive done that but fear that the quality of the code is not up to par with production standard (code is spaghetti bolognese). – Imhotep Oct 29 '18 at 8:57
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Call a meeting with the senior. Book some time, 20-30 minutes, and ask him what you've asked us here. I'll paraphrase from your text above:

I know you're focused on the other project, and I'm blocked waiting on the API from those external guys. How should I handle this downtime? Should I study Angular or do something else?

There's nothing wrong with asking for guidance or stating you have nothing to do. The guy is there to help you, you're effectively his charge, and your performance reflects on him. Having nothing to do is only a problem if you sit on your butt doing nothing.

Whatever comes out of that verbal meeting, write it down and send it back to him in an email.

Thank you for your time today. As per our discussion I will do X. We can re-evaluate in $weeks if the situation doesn't change.

And, do yourself a favour and adopt a ticketing system even if no one else uses it. Could be Trello or anything else (just not Excel).

As for your performance review, don't worry about it. You have a blocker and it's been communicated up the chain. This happens all the time. The normal thing here is to figure out what to do with your time, and the best way to do that is to ask.

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What you are going through is perfectly normal. It is a part of the transition from being a student where you are spoon-fed and someone is constantly holding your hand to becoming an employee where you will need to figure out things for yourself.

Some universities prepare students better for this than others.

You'll need to adapt (quickly) to learning how to hack through problems and produce good quality products (in your case code) with minimal supervision. I would say it is a safe bet that the company is quietly watching you to see if you can do this.

It is a stressful time but it will get easier. Good luck.

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