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I'm an apprentice in Computer Science in Germany (speciality software development). I'm currently working on several projects at work. I have been there for 5 months yet. In the first 4 months of those, my supervisor would actually view and re-view all my code before using it as production software. This was because I had almost no idea about any of the languages I was coding in. I still don't, but recently my Supervisor has stopped checking my code before putting it live, only asking me for a list of test cases I had and tested in.

I'm uncomfortable with that change, and I would like to succinctly hint to him that while I appreciate his trust, I'm not confident in my ability to produce proper production code without supervision yet.

So the question is, how do I best ask about this?

Also, am I overreacting? The code in question is mainly for internal production applications. It's a small company, with only 4 full-time IT employees and me. (The rest of the employees have nothing to do with IT ~110)

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  • Trust your supervisor, he or she is much better equipped to judge whether you are capable of producing proper production code. The good news is that it sounds like they answer is yes.
    – cdkMoose
    Dec 14, 2015 at 17:38

4 Answers 4

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It means that he has starting to trust you with the code, which is a great sign.

So, live up to his expectations. However, your confidence is all that makes you grow in a professional environment, you can still ask him to review any big changes, and do the small and trivial changes yourself.

This would give him a hint that you are slowly getting up to speed with the process and are confident enough, and he'd love to help you get better at pushing the major changes too.

Also, am I overreacting?

No, obsessing over improving yourself is never bad, atleast not in your case.

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Well, he obviously trusts you. Plus, as it's a small shop, IT-wise, there is not as much time for reviews than in some bigger shops. Though be warned, in some bigger shops, you're left on you own too. A team of 4 is not much, and I guess responsabilities for this small team are broad. Enjoy : you're gonna learn a lot.

Computer programming is a job where you need to be autonomous to be efficient. That's time for you to learn. Be sure, though, to take the time for making extra checks to your code, both in terms of norms(does it look like something my boss would have approved?), and in terms of testing(did I test all cases? Standard? Limit? Did I test error handling? Did I make regression testing?)

(EDIT : reprahsed 1st paragraph to take the comment in account).

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    The IT is small yes, but the company overall isn't really.
    – Magisch
    Dec 14, 2015 at 9:08
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I agree, you are starting to get the trust of your supervisor, this is a good thing.

If you are still concerned about the quality of your work, you can show initiative and get help by asking a peer to look over your work. Find someone else who is doing implementation level work and ask if they'd be willing to check your work. If it's just a specific piece of the code, then it becomes even easier "can you just look at these three lines, I'm not sure I got the context right?"

Your supervisor is bound to hear about this and if they are a good manager, will see this as you taking charge of your own skill improvements.

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So the question is, how do I best ask about (my supervisor no longer reviewing my work in detail)?

Change is not always bad, so if your supervisor made changes, you should also change what you are doing and how you are thinking. Fear is from the unknown - not knowing the answer to, "what could happen now?"

So maybe you should ask, "what should happen now?" Here are some steps to take:

  1. Demonstrate awareness of the situation. Your manager either trusts you or is setting you up to fail, intentional or not. As a manager, a "sink or swim" approach sometimes works great either way. So, when you submit code, your manager may still be reviewing it, but not commenting. Be sure to demonstrate that you know when to ask for help by asking for help only when you are really worried that you need it. Some things you are doing may not require supervision and your supervisor knows this, but you don't. Try to learn the difference. That is really what your supervisor needs you to know anyway - when to ask for help, instead of either of you assuming that you need it all the time.

  2. Check in with the boss after a while. So this change is about you being more independent. How are you doing? If problems are coming up because you didn't ask for help, you should seek to know about them. On a weekly / bi-weekly basis ask if there are things you can improve or need to work on. Some managers don't speak about problems unless asked. Also, sometimes you learn more when you are prepared to ask than when you are hit by news unprepared.

  3. Look into and promote ideas like "pair programming" or co-worker code reviews. You can learn a lot by reviewing your co-worker's code, and vice versa. You don't mention this as an option, so I assume it isn't happening. If it is, then that should be a fine substitute for your manager's review. If it isn't happen, bring it up and try to get support for it, if possible. Some managers are concerned with "wasting time" or "duplicating effort." Be sure to mention, "cross training" and "backup support" and "what happens if someone quits/dies/etc." along with "we all can learn more" and "it might save you review time and worry about our code quality."

If these fail to work or you seem to still need help and supervision after some time has passed, your supervisor will probably know it and suggest it. However, if you feel the need sooner, you can approach the supervisor with all of these efforts complete, and be confident in saying, "I'm really trying, here are the things I've done to be independent and it isn't working for us. Can I get more reviews so that I can learn to be independent soon? Can we set some goals or try some other things to help?"

Also, am I overreacting?

As an apprentice, you do not know when the step to more independence should be taken. Hopefully, your supervisor is experienced enough to be doing it at the right time for you. If you expect an answer like, "Ask to be fully supervised again!" then you are probably overreacting. You don't know whether that is true or not. Calm down and reflect on the points above and/or other guidance.

If you are looking for guidance on how to handle the change, then your worry has led you to a place where people can help with guiding you - and maybe this answer and the points above will do that for you. In this case your reaction is just fine. You are taking steps to learn and grow, which is the goal.

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