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EDIT

Thanks for all the comments and answers! Also, thanks for pointing out the other question – I've read all the answers to it and took away (hopefully) as much as is relevant to my situation. I think, however, that my case is different. I don't have trouble with figuring out what to do, it's just that nobody with more experience is checking my outputs. So I know the code works and that I've done my best, but I can't catch what I don't know. However, judging from the answers and comments to both mine and the other person's question, this is probably quite normal, so I guess I'll just have to live with it.

Also, to clarify: formally, the coworker is not my supervisor, we both fall under the same manager, who is responsible for the whole department. Informally, it is very unclear. My coworker is understood to be the senior member of the team, and she was introduced to me as the team lead of our two-person unit. HOWEVER, at my three-month review, I mentioned that I felt like I was doing a lot of administrative stuff that, in my opinion, should be the team leader's responsibility, and was told by my manager in no unclear terms that the "team lead" role is very informal and that it is up to the team to decide who does what.

To sum up, I think that what I really needed to hear was Rose's comment and especially JBH's answer – THANK YOU! I'm just going to accept the fact that I've been put in a different position than I expected when I was hired, and try to really own the app and carry out all the decisions the other person leaves to me the best I can (I'm also going to stop referring to her – in my mind – as my senior, because it just frustrates me). I love working on our project, but in the end, I'm not designing the next Apollo – if it crashes once in a while, no one dies and the company won't go bankrupt.


I currently work as a frontend developer, but my background is in an unrelated field (coding used to be a hobby). When I decided to make a career change, I taught myself as much as I could, made it through a coding bootcamp and finally landed a junior dev job – this is where I work now. I’ve been here for 10 months.

There are two of us working on the frontend part of the project. I was hired as the junior and the management sees the other developer as my senior, but the trouble is that she's not really acting as one. Her main expertise lies in CSS and design and unfortunately, after 10 months on the job, I know both the framework and our codebase much better than her. I feel she always picks the easier tasks/stories/bugs, and I literally have to force her to do code reviews for me and she never tells me anything except "it's okay". I am constantly terrified that something will go wrong, because the app is being developed by an unsupervised junior. It's me muddling through by trial and error with the help of StackOverflow.

On the one hand, I see it as a great experience – I am basically doing the work of a mid-senior developer and have zero official responsibility. On the other hand, my code is probably really bad, and I would really like to be mentored and taught and supervised. Also, my work is not visible - everything we produce is seen as the work of the frontend team, so I am not "proving myself" capable of handling larger tasks or anything. Also, I don't feel comfortable taking on any advanced responsibilities, because I feel my experience is really very junior.

My senior has been with the company for a long time and is respected and well-liked (she's a very friendly, extroverted person). I am in no position to even hint that she's not doing a good job. At the same time, I have become very resentful of her.

What can I do? I can probably switch projects, but it will take at least another six months. The company is great, I don't want to leave. Is there a way to get more formal training while staying on this project without implying that my current senior is not doing their work?

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    The only question I see is (What can you do?) Can't say with certainty but you sound like you know more than you may think. You've taught yourself a lot and are still teaching yourself. The 'hard work' you're doing may be unnoticed by management but 'you' know what you're doing and learning. My advice would be to stick to logic, look for good things to say about 'senior' coworker and be patient. Management will, most likely, eventually recognize your work and realize your efforts. – Rose Dec 30 '18 at 2:01
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    "It's me muddling through by trial and error with the help of StackOverflow." That's pretty much what a senior developer does as well (at least some of the time). – Calchas Dec 30 '18 at 2:41
  • Is the senior your formal supervisor, or is your boss somebody different? – Monica Cellio Dec 30 '18 at 19:01
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When I was a much younger man I worked for a large Semiconductor firm doing digital microcircuit design with one of the few teams at the time designing in BiCMOS (the combination of Bipolar and CMOS on chip). Less than a year out of college the company fired all of the (expensive) senior designers and moved the rest of us to another city. Suddenly I was a design lead, and I was leading desgin reviews/meetings, and people who had been in the industry for decades, but were not designers (layout personnel, testers, etc.) were looking at me across the table. Patiently.

Thank goodness they were nice people. However, looking back on that experience...

I knew a whole lot more than I was willing to give myself credit for. What I lacked wasn't experience, imagination, or training. What I lacked was self-confidence. I could have handled it all much better than I did if I simply trusted both myself and the people I was working with. Because mistakes happen whether you're a junior or a senior.

And boy, did they happen. I designed a 32-bit chip with an underengineered ground plane. That's a long way of saying when all 32 bits transitioned from 1 to 0, the chip vaporized. The Q&A techs said it was so cool they blew up several just for the entertainment.

I lived. So did my company.

The situation stinks because you're not getting great support from your coworker, but after 10 months you don't seem to have people lined up to toss you out the door. Trust yourself. Document everything, but trust yourself. Frankly, if you're already confident that you know more than your "senior" about what you're doing — then you're OK. Focus on your work and build good code. Don't be afraid of mistakes, but never fail to learn from them, either. If you're really uncomfortable, update your resume and start looking for another job. Above all, realize that you'll see this problem again. Worse, eventually you might be seen as the unresponsive senior. Learn from both the good and the bad, so that you can avoid the bad whenever you can.

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    That's a mistake I would like to see! More than once please! :-) – Paolo Dec 31 '18 at 20:19
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    Thank you, thank you, thank you. I SO needed to hear this – this is really exactly what I was looking for, someone who has dealt with a similar situation and is willing to share their experience (and your case was definitely much more terrifying!). You really made my day - both by pointing out that self-confidence might be an issue and with the vaporizing chip! – Avi Jan 4 at 11:15

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