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P.S : This is an edited(and a more constructive, hopefully) version of original question, that was against the website policies.

I started working in a firm as a software engineer about an year back. I was a fresher, right after college and was very enthusiastic about my job. The work sounded good and I relocated 3000 kms just for it.

An year later now, I am not very comfortable with the environment within the team. My mentor is unfriendly and difficult to work with, and often over commits in respect of work. My manager doesn't have much experience in my domain, but likes to keep a tab on everything I do, because of a non favorable feedback from my mentor.

What can I do to like my job more? The work is good, but the environment gets on my nerves. The team is small and for some reason, people are expected to do too much in little time. More importantly, what can I do, as a junior developer, to improve my skills without reaching out to the mentor and make my voice heard in terms of project planning?

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You're dealing with a couple of complex situations here. Let's break them down and discuss them individually.

First - you have a mentor that, for whatever reason, isn't a very good mentor to you.

  • It could be that you are terrible at your job and are super annoying. This is fairly unlikely in a Jr Developer, you were assigned a mentor for a reason(because you are new and relatively inexperienced) and the goal of a mentor is to help get you up to speed, teach you real world best practices and give you useful feedback.

  • It could be that he is terrible at his job and is an awful mentor. This is slightly more likely. Unfortunately good developers often make terrible mentors. It is a stereotype that developers are anti-social cave trolls and that stereotype isn't really true. What is true, though, is that development does not necessary require the same skills as mentoring and a prospective 'mentor' should, themselves, be mentored in order to ensure that they have the toolkit neccesary.

  • It could be a combination of the two above or neither. It's entirely possible that this is due to a personality conflict between you and your mentor. A technical mentorship, especially one on one, in a production environment can be stressful. This can be magnified if your 'mentor' is, in a way, your boss or higher up on the same project.

To be honest this is the harder of the two issues. At this point it appears as though your 'mentor' is completely willing to throw you under the bus. This means coming to your mentor with questions, concerns, problems, or 'weaknesses' is just going to make the situation worse. To this end, if I were you, I would try to distance myself from the mentorship portion of this relationship. You've got a year of mentorship under your belt, it's not unreasonable to start moving away from that mentorship(in theory you should know a lot of what that mentor has to teach you) and, perhaps, start looking for another mentor.

Second - you have a teammate whose is willing to throw you, the FNG, under a bus and a manager who is, for whatever reason, willing to believe that the FNG who was hired straight out of college and is clearly a Jr Developer is both powerful enough and legitimately given enough responsibility to single handedly delay a major project. This, again, breaks down into a couple of issues.

  1. First - you were new, you should have been given carefully monitored and considered responsibility with clear deliverables until such time as you were no longer 'new'. Now if you were and you messed up, didn't do your due diligence, etc... that's a whole other situation but even with that until you had been proven there is little that you should have been able to do, as a fresh out of college graduate in your first job, to delay the project. If you were not given a ramp up into the job and into the responsibilities of the job that you needed then, if I were you, I'd be evaluating the company as a whole. It could be that this particular department(or even the whole company) isn't a great fit for you.
  2. Second - a Sr Developer who is not willing to own problems is terrifying to work for. Whenever you come into a position there are always politics in place. What were the politics in your particular group? Has your mentor mentored before? Does he like to dodge blame or finger point? Do they normally meet deliverables? That your manager is willing to discard the FNG in the interest of coddling a Sr Developer is not surprising, to be honest, but it is pretty crummy. It could be that this is a unhealthy environment where the Sr Developer can do no wrong, delays and problems will be shuttled to the FNG and no one is taking responsibility at a management level in which case you should run, not walk, and find a new job because it will only get worse.
  3. Finally - you should be able to talk to your manager and neither of them should be avoiding the problem. This is probably the most actionable part of this answer - go talk to your manager. Explain your perspective, without blaming the mentor, and explain that you've been feeling uncomfortable with the atmosphere in the team. Try to find out how you are being 'blamed' (not in those words of course) and then try top take care of anything actionable from that.

This answer, as I review it, is a lot of "well it could be..." chat but I think that's still valuable. Namely to say and show that it's not necessarily that you did something wrong. Mentoring and onboarding new people into a team is hard. It's a bit like having a baby. Having a baby in a solid relationship is hard work but, ultimately, rewarding. Having a baby in a relationship with problems is a fast way to really showcase those problems and even damage the relationship. The same is true for bringing new people onto development teams. Development and deployment processes often grow up like mushrooms - in the dark and without coherent plans. A new person will often highlight any problems with that process because they are outside of the "It made sense at the time" nature of the development cycle.

In short you should do a couple of things:

  1. Talk to your mentor. Be gentle, do not accuse and be circumspect. Try to figure out what he blames you for and distill, from that, what are legitimate issues with your process.
  2. Start pulling away from the mentorship. Start standing on your own. If you can solve a problem on your own, do it(within the appropriate confines of your company's policies of course). Start spreading your questions around to other team mates.
  3. Talk to your manager. Both about your feelings about the current atmosphere and in terms of 'what am I doing wrong'/'what am I being blamed for'. Figure out an action plan to resolve these things.
  4. Take care of your shit. You probably did do something that slowed the release down(to be honest when a project is delayed there are almost always a billion reasons that can be owned by almost everyone on the project) or you may be doing something annoying(asking your mentor questions before trying to solve something on your own or reasking the same question multiple times). Take care of this, make your own ship ship-shape. Because...
  5. Be prepared to move one if things don't improve. Sometimes, for whatever reasons, jobs just start to suck. If the suck doesn't improve, find something better. You have a year of work, a deliverable with a company - you could find something else if it comes to that point.
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    Hi Nahkki, on posts that don't clearly have a clear, objectively asked question, they should be put on hold until they're clarified. This helps reduce speculation in answers. I suspect that may be the reason for the down votes and wanted to give you a heads up. See How to Ask for details, as it describes what we're looking for in questions, and what we can do as answerers to help clarify the question before we try to answer it. Hope this helps. – jmort253 Sep 17 '14 at 21:35
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    Hi Nahaki, thanks a lot for your very valuable suggestions. I decided to speak to the head of the department and he assured me that I am doing a good job. However, there are a lot of things I can improve in myself and I am working on it. Also, I am moving away from the mentorship and trying to make my own mark, as 1 year is long enough time to be mentored. Despite the status of the question, I will like to thank you immensely for spending your time in reading my rant and giving me great suggestions. Thank you :) – sk89 Sep 20 '14 at 19:51

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