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After my masters degree I am now at my first job as a software developer a little over 3 months and am seriously questioning if this job and software development in general is suited for me.

My position states software developer, not junior software developer although I'm very much a junior considering my skill set. I think this is mainly because the company is quite small, not even having a proper software department, but rather single people here and there working on different projects (everybody for themselves, no teams). I was very open about my skill level in the interview and got the proposal to work with one of the freelance developers, getting into the framework (Flutter) and getting up to speed in general. I accepted based on this proposal. When I started, I was then put under somebody else (not a software developer and not on site), because the freelancer had some personal issues. Since then I am working with a Bluetooth chip on little tasks. I have no idea what this project should lead to (something I noticed about lots of people, everybody is only inside their own projects).

While I'm not pressured or put under stress by anybody in the company, it very much feels to me like I'm not progressing at all. Anything I did so far, I could have done in a private project at home. Does my code work - yes. Does it run stable - oh hell no. While I have somebody to ask a question here and there, it's not like there is even a senior whose code I could look at and learn from. When I carefully raised this issue with the person I get my tasks from (maybe you could say manager, though IMO it would be a stretch to say so) and my boss (the company boss), they just were like "it'll be fine, it's ok". This is very different of what I knew of some friends who got junior positions at bigger companies and worked in a team under a senior from the beginning.

I'm quite demotivated already, being quite alone in my project with almost zero interaction with other employees and am also very anxious that not making progress in my skills will hurt me in the future, since employers will have a certain expectation when seeing a 1 or 2 year software development entry in a CV.

My main question now is: am I expecting too much "handholding" in a junior position (maybe my friends got lucky in their positions)?

I'm unsure if I should search for another position as soon as possible where I would have more possibilities to polish my skills or pull through in this job.

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    I don't believe there is any "standard" answer here since the environment is going to be very different and different companies. This is, however, a very important topic to discuss when you are interviewing them as a potential employer.
    – jwh20
    Commented Mar 17, 2023 at 18:14
  • @jwh20 i agree. In the interview it was said i would work with that freelance dev. It's unfortunate that this didn't work out (factors outside of my & companies power), but it leaves me with a vastly different setting than agreed upon in the interview
    – user112367
    Commented Mar 17, 2023 at 18:41
  • VTC - This question is far too broad and will be almost entirely opinion based. It depends on too many factors that we simply aren't privy to. Commented Mar 17, 2023 at 19:23
  • @JoeStrazzere: Something along the lines of: they know i'm fresh in the business, it's ok for me to be not as productive in the beginning. My boss has no idea of software development (his words, not mine) and because of the companies work structure (single dev projects, no teams) it seems like a less than ideal setting for a junior to get up to speed. But maybe i'm mistaken here. That's what i'm trying to gauge with the question.
    – user112367
    Commented Mar 17, 2023 at 20:57
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    What are you being asked to do? Have you gone through the exercise of decomposing it into smaller parts yet? Do you know, at least in general, what pieces you don't know and need to learn? If you don't have a plan, you don't know whether it's within your scope or not.
    – keshlam
    Commented Mar 18, 2023 at 5:53

2 Answers 2

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[...] the company is quite small, not even having a proper software department, but rather single people here and there working on different projects (everybody for themselves, no teams).

and

While i have somebody to ask a question here and there, it's not like there is even a senior whose code i could look at and learn from.

And then you ask us:

am i expecting too much "handholding" in a junior position (maybe my friends got lucky in their positions) ?

Given the nature and structure from this specific company, then yes, you are expecting to much from this company and job.

You say there are no seniors to ask for guidance or codebase. You say it's one-man teams, so everything is silo-ed. Thus, it's clear to me that one should expect few to none "handholding" on this job.

If you should look for another job or stay here we can't answer, it's up to you. However, if you are not comfortable with this first job experience and feel that you would need more guidance or a different work organization, then it would make sense for you to look for a job where these things you need are more likely to be available.

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    Alternatively, you can proceed,, do the best for them that you can, take advantage of online learning opportunities, and see if your skills actually are good enough to do what they need right now. It sounds like they understand this would be a learn-as-you-go exercise, so you have space to attempt it. Your skills may be better than you recognize, especially if one of them is skill at learning..
    – keshlam
    Commented Mar 17, 2023 at 22:00
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    @DarkCygnus - I think your answer nails it, this company operates in a way that's not aligned with what i expected from a junior position. It feels like they need at least devs with a couple of years experience to efficiently work alone on projects. Honestly, i think i should have been rejected in the interview. I'll set this answer as the accepted one and will have to think hard about if this will work out longtime for me or not. Thanks.
    – user112367
    Commented Mar 18, 2023 at 11:20
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There's really two different modes in which software development is done.

On the one hand, you have relatively large teams, with divisions of labour, in companies that invest in training and workforce planning.

On the other hand, you have roles that are relatively autonomous, where it is left to the individual to learn the technology and to devise an approach to its use and application.

There isn't much awareness or explicit acknowledgement of these two distinct modes, but the distinction is real.

The autonomous roles suit either those who have already learned, or hobbyists who like to self-learn.

If you've decided you're the kind of person who wants training and mentorship, it may be worth having an explicit conversation with your current employer about it, but it may also be necessary to seek a job with a different employer.

On the other hand, if the problem is aimlessness, then it might be time to ask questions or drum up business for yourself. You say you have no idea where your current project will lead. The next question to your manager, then, should be "When do you have time for discussion? I'd like to get a stronger idea of where this project is going.".

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