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I was hired as a junior for my first software developer job 11 months ago and when I arrived in the company, I received no training whatsoever. I was basically left on my own, in a non-hierarchical team where I had the same authority of my team members, and I didn’t receive any mentoring from the senior (except that he was answering my questions, but I had to figure out myself how to invest my time).

I received also no feedback for 11 months except for when my contract was renewed, and the feedback from my HR manager was positive so I assumed that I was performing well. Also, nobody told me what the company was expecting from me, I was just thrown in the middle of a team.

Now I realize that it was a big mistake not to ask myself for those things (e.g. training, feedback), but it’s also true that when you are a junior and it’s your first job you don’t question those things. My company is a small startup with a poor structure (e.g. no official job profiles, lack of documentation).

During this time I assumed that my primary goal was to be productive from the beginning, and I didn’t invest enough time in more important things like:

  • Understanding the tasks
  • Communication with my colleagues
  • Thinking about the broader picture (e.g. what happens if I commit this code to solve a bug? do I break something else?)
  • SCRUM skills (e.g. giving the top priority on the first task in the sprint, getting things done mentality)

Being that I didn’t focus on the above mentioned skills, I had some shortcomings which I didn’t realize because I thought that my quality as a programmer was only given by my ability to code.

After 11 months I am suddenly receiving negative feedback and I am being told that if I don’t fix those shortcomings, I will not have my contract renewed after 8 months (and as far as I understand, it could even happen that it will get terminated prematurely).

Now I understand that I made a lot of mistakes and also many wrong assumptions that led me to this situation, but in my opinion I had to receive some training/feedback and it was up to my senior colleagues/manager to indicate me the right track.

I am confident that I can work on those shortcomings and that I have good chances of making it, but at this point the question is: Would it be better to search for a more structure company? How common is it for a company to throw juniors in the middle of a team without any instruction/feedback? Should I take it a sign that my company is not offering me enough instruments to grow and search for another job?

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  • I'll take an edit at your post, as it is a bit long and has some details that could be cut down to focus on the question you ask. Feel free to further edit it to your liking. – DarkCygnus Jul 23 '19 at 17:50
  • Feel free to edit it. I also added more details about the negative feedback, let me know if it’s clear now. – Boh Boh Jul 23 '19 at 18:16
  • At my first job, my training involved finding tutorials on the internet, googling of answers to help me complete my assignments. I basically had to figure out most of the things by myself. That's it. – Galaxy Jul 25 '19 at 2:32
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Would it be better to search for a more structure company?

If you personally don't feel comfortable working there, and think you will perform better in a more structured company then go for it. Only you know what kind of company suits you better.

How common is it for a company to throw juniors in the middle of a team without any instruction/feedback?

It is not common, but unfortunately it is not rare also. Good/decent companies usually don't do that, as they already have on-boarding processes, inductions and tutoring, etc. for new employees.

There are, of course, other more "open" companies that expect their workers to be more independent and learn and look around on their own... and of course there are companies that lack a solid structure and practices, where one may feel like it is a free-for-all fight for keeping your job and learning your ways...

Should I take it a sign that my company is not offering me enough instruments to grow and search for another job?

To turn things around, why don't you ask for instruments to grow and learn? Have you done that? (Based on your post I'd say perhaps not).

This you should have done months ago, when you started to feel a bit lost. But still, it is not too late yet. Thus, I suggest you approach your manager or supervisor and politely ask for resources and tips they may give you to improve your skills.

Also, try to ask and obtain a clear answer on what are the expectations they have of you and your work, so you can align your efforts to strive and fulfill those expectations.

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  • The negative remarks that I had were directly linked to the things that I mentioned: not understanding task requirements, tasks priority, SCRUM principles and programming without seeing the broader picture (e.g. introducing a new bug while trying to solve one). All those shortcomings didn’t have any negative impact on the software quality because my pull requests were being corrected and/or rejected by my colleagues. And I agree with any of their points, but I don’t see why in those 11 months they didn’t try to put me on the right track. – Boh Boh Jul 23 '19 at 18:06
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    @BohBoh again, not to be rude and to turn things around, I don't see why in those 11 months you didn't ask to be put on track... sometimes you have to show initiative and ask, and not expect that they will hand you everything without you asking. – DarkCygnus Jul 23 '19 at 18:09
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    I see. Well... now you know, so it is time for you to ask for guidance and to be put on track. No need to dwell on the past. Right now this is what you need to do. Think of it as a positive experience, one that will let you grow skills complementary to your coding skills. – DarkCygnus Jul 23 '19 at 18:12
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    @BohBoh I wouldn't do that. It would reflect badly on you (because, like I said, you could have shown some initiative and asked to be put on track before you found out you were lacking)... I would refrain from bringing that what you say... however, if they ask you and you feel compelled to tell or at least defend yourself, I would stick to the fact that your past performance review was found satisfactory, but now you see you have areas to improve and are working on them. Don't give excuses, provide solutions and evidence on how you are working on it (that will reflect good on you). – DarkCygnus Jul 23 '19 at 18:35
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    Rock solid advice, as usual. – Neo Jul 23 '19 at 22:15

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