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The situation:

I recently got a job (first job ever in the field) as an entry level software developer after pursuing a master in data science. I have been in the workplace for about 5-6 months.

The codebase that I am currently working on is in the order of (probably) high tens of thousands lines if not more and it comprehends various technologies including front-end and back-end frameworks. As of today I have been asked mostly to work on bug fixes, additions and modifications of the code to gain familiarity with the codebase. I have been working on both the front and back end side and in these days my superior is reviewing my past commits in order to push a new release. Modifications include the following:

  • Changes in front end interfaces/frameworks(adding/fixing styles, changing layouts, creating new front-end interfaces)

  • Back-end code (bug fixes,adding features and modifications)

  • Changes in bash files

As of today I was able to complete many of the modifications without asking many questions both of front-end and back-end. However, for some issues I have relied more on my superior which has been super-available on sitting down with me and explaining things more thoroughly where in doubt.

Because I come from a slightly different background I feel I am still catching up with some topics especially frameworks used in the workplace. I feel everybody around me is super Great (I feel like in a small family) and this keeps me motivated to push more and more.

However, I have to admit that sometimes I still feel yet not entirely fit for the position (again, been here for 5-6 months). At home I keep working and pushing by reading books and practicing code every day.

The question:

I was wondering if it is normal to feel this way and what I can do to further improve and bridge the gap.

Any advice is welcomed. I always have a "never give up" mentality so I do not feel discouraged and I have confidence in my abilities. I am just wondering if my performance can be considered in the boundaries of normal.

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    The only answer that really matters is your manager's. It's entirely reasonable to ask how you're doing and how you can improve, as long as you don't pester them with it too frequently.
    – keshlam
    Apr 19, 2023 at 0:57
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    @keshlam IMHO this post is not long, even though OP said they wanted to be as detailed as possible :)
    – DarkCygnus
    Apr 19, 2023 at 2:02
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    "I still feel yet not entirely fit for the position" you've only been a developer for 6 months. It would be stranger if you were. If you still feel that way around the 3-5 year mark that might be more worrisome, although still not necessarily a real problem. Apr 20, 2023 at 11:41
  • "I feel like in a small family". The cringe is strong with this one. Apr 22, 2023 at 13:38

3 Answers 3

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I am just wondering if my performance can be considered in the boundaries of normal

The (real) answer to this question is that you should ask your manager/supervisor. Your question can also be answered by the results of the performance reviews you get in your job.

I mentioned "real" because any answer we can give you would be hypothetical and from an outside perspective (we are not in your company, nor can we precisely measure your performance). What matters is that you are performing well according to your company's criteria on what or what is not a "good performance".

You could approach your manager/supervisor (or this "superior" you mention) and ask them what they think about your performance, and if they believe there is anything you could do to improve.

This will give you actionable points you can work out and improve in your job (to be fair, based on your description and whole post, if I had to guess I'd say that you are doing ok, and that it's not rare to feel like this in new jobs or new industries).

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Is it normal to feel this way

Yes. It's called imposter syndrome. It doesn't just extend to work, if/when you have kids, you'll suddenly realize how all parents including your Mum and Dad had barely any clue what was going on and were winging it 90% of the time.

Hell, I can look at some scripts that I wrote 6-12 months ago and be scratching my head going 'How on earth does all this work?!?'.

Now in terms of your specific situation - in IT/Tech - I have always believed that in any new position, regardless of how skilled you are, it takes 3-6 months to start to be proficient - that is to learn the ins and outs of the company and to have enough exposure to the fringe systems that you are aware of their existence and what they are used for. However, in your case as it's your first job, it's more likely 6 months to a year.

And your company will quite likely know this Companies know that people need real world experience and so long as you are asking the right questions and you are completing the things assigned to you - then you are doing what they expect.

In addition you mentioned that the seniors are supportive - this generally means that they recognize that you've got the desire to learn and to grow and you are asking the right questions.

Finally to answer the question - what more can you do? Well, keep up with the right attitude, that you are asking the question is a good sign that you are doing the right thing. I would suggest self-learning about technologies or adjacent technologies that the business uses - e.g. if they use AWS, learn about that and then learn about Azure so you've got a frame of reference. Finally - volunteer to help on things where you can - so you can get more exposure.

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    "It takes 3-6 months to start to be proficient...and your company will quite likely know this" yes, that's a big part of why we all tend to be so picky about hiring: we're investing 3-6 months worth of fully-loaded employee cost (not to mention opportunity costs) before we can even hope to start seeing return on that investment. Apr 20, 2023 at 11:39
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"I was wondering if it is normal to feel this way and what I can do to further improve and bridge the gap."

Yes, to a certain extent this is how I felt 20+ years ago when I started in IT. I also believe everyone has felt that way to some extent when starting in a new field/position unless they are super/over-confident about themselves.. ;)

From what I read you are doing very well, found a good position in terms of company culture and colleagues and it looks like you show a lot of enthusiasm and dedication to your new role, so congrats.

As you become more familiar with the products/technology/codebase used in your company as well as in IT in general, you normally will gain more confidence in your skills quite naturally - but this just takes some time so try to be patient and not too hard on yourself.

If these feelings continue and/or become overwhelming, reasure yourself by speaking to your manager and/or your peers (ask for feedback - how they see your progress and also where to improve) and maybe have a look into the 'imposter syndrom'.

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