I am currently doing my internship in a SME software development company. My boss, who is also my supervisor which also happened to be the owner of the company, to me I think, have a very different of teaching approach. Let me first tell you guys the story.

When I have applied my intern in the company, I met my boss and we begin to know each other. For the task, he given me a website project. He gave me the shortcuts of designing a website using the Twitter Bootstrap. He gave me the link of the Twitter Bootstrap documentation and I had no problem understanding it as I have my HTML & CSS basics.

After designed it, the next stage is I need to convert the design into a Content Management System (CMS) using Wordpress. This part gave me so much headache as it a is whole new knowledge for me. He gave me the Wordpress Codex documentation link to me for me to read & understand. I have read it for weeks & still I can't understand it. I did so much googling to understand them, but it took me too much time just to understand the basics.

I asked my boss, how to even start using the Wordpress, or atleast give me a head start. But what he said is, he didn't want me to ask him, he wanted me to understand them by myself and he want me to be independent. After few weeks with no progress, he showed me how to start it. He copied some functions in the Wordpress & apply it to some part in my project which I don't event understand why he did that. When I ask him how he knew those function are to need to be copied to those part & how it works, he told me he read it.

The thing is, I read all those documentation & still I failed to understand. My boss usually not around & when he's around, I always did not get the answer when I ask him about my problems. Sometimes he gave me the answers, but to be honest, it was not direct answer. He said, "use this function, technique, etc." but it always ended with another new problems. I have to figure out myself to adjust/fix the false answer.

My boss said to me that during the his first time knowing about Wordpress, it only took him 1 week to read & understand those codex and after that, he can do all. He said, he learn all of these programming by himself with no teacher or sifu at all. His only sifu is the web. He wanted me to be independent. He said to me, "If you keep asking me, means you are getting & you are not learning...". "Did you ever wonder how can there are so many teens who is younger than you able to do all these stuff by their own... They did all those stuff by read all of these documentation with no assistance from others". These statement really hit me hard as I always ask if I do not understand.

I tried to contact my lecturer if he know how these stuff works or know anyone who knows how these stuff works. My lecturer gave me some phone number & I asked their help. All of them are busy & not able to help me. I asked my friends who is expert in this field, didn't reply my quest regarding assisting me on learning these stuff. After few months of slow progress, I failed to meet the deadline of the stage, and now I am burnout, stuck in the E-Commerce phase. Currently just waiting my internship to finish.

I always wanted to be a web developer, the first time I knew my task is about web developing I was happy, I knew I can get so much knowledge about it. But when I learn something really new here, it was not type of learning that I expected.

My question is, is it really my way of learning need to be change as my boss said or my boss teaching method need to be revised?

Another question is, is it really true, all programmer are independent?

I hope you guys can help me out because I am started to think that I my ambition is no longer mine and I need to think something better for my future.

  • 2
    Being a developer isn't for everyone, if you are taking weeks to do simple tasks, maybe you need to go back to university? Commented May 4, 2016 at 6:15
  • 7
    is it really true, all programmer are independent? The harsh truth, yes. Not-independent programmers are not programmers, just people trying write code. ... If real programmers-for-work couldn't do their work without getting help for everything, why should anyone hire them?
    – deviantfan
    Commented May 4, 2016 at 8:22
  • 2
    "For example, which Wordpress hook is for upload?" - If you tried the documentation and couldn't find an answer, did you try searching/asking this on StackOverflow?
    – Brandin
    Commented May 4, 2016 at 8:53
  • 6
    @JeffO I disagree. I am also working as a developer co-op at the moment and me and other workers have spent massive amounts of time fixing work done by copy/paste coders who clearly did not read any documentation and just asked questions and copy pasted answers without knowing why they did it. Being able to read documentation and actually understand and learn from what you read is one of the major parts of being an effective coder.
    – Jacobr365
    Commented May 4, 2016 at 13:40
  • 2
    @Dunk I am fine with having someone as a mentor. But there is a big difference between treating a mentor as a mentor and treating them as if they were your personal answer service. IMO a mentor is there to clarify questions and details after you already have read through the documentation and have some understanding. If you can't read the documentation and get that initial level of understanding then you are back to treating the mentor like they are going to do the work for you.
    – Jacobr365
    Commented May 5, 2016 at 15:54

4 Answers 4


In IT your are expected to be much more independent and able to learn by yourself. What your boss says about teen programmers isn't entirely far fetched.

Apart from tutorials consider some programming books and asking what you don´t understand here on stack overflow.

So don´t give up yet, but don´t expect others to teach you. Others have had to learn by themselves as well. As a programmer you will be expected to handle new problems all the time and you will be expected to find solutions by yourself.

  • Maybe you're right, but there's no joy learning things you do not understand which you can't even start doing it. If I understand how things work, maybe I can solve if there's problem with it, but truth is, how to understand the things work is a problem to me. I'm not giving up, but with my pace, I will hardly compete with others out there & my knowledge will become obsolete.
    – Kaydarin
    Commented May 4, 2016 at 8:15
  • 2
    But you have an advantage and you are not completely right. It´s very good if you have the opportunity and motivation to immediately apply what you have learned from a book. It´s much harder to learn by yourself while being unemployed at home with no motivation and opportunity to apply what you have learned.
    – Rigolletto
    Commented May 4, 2016 at 8:19
  • Dont get me wrong, so what you saying is?
    – Kaydarin
    Commented May 4, 2016 at 8:25
  • 1
    @Kaydarin This answer is suggesting that you should try other sources. Try reading some books about Web development, PHP and/or Wordpress. I prefer books that have "Exercises". Do those and convince yourself that you understand the concepts, or at least know which ones you don't get yet.
    – Brandin
    Commented May 4, 2016 at 9:06
  • @Brandin Wordpress & E-Commerce is a major problem now... I'll try to search for it...
    – Kaydarin
    Commented May 4, 2016 at 9:10

Honestly if you ask me, yes any programmer is independent. It does not mean he knows it all, but you should be able to do x projects solo and willingly to adapt to new languages in a split second.

YOU are not a programmer, you are a intern. A internship should be a learning experience with real work environment. It sounds to me that either your Boss is expecting to much or your school did not prepare you enough.

"Did you ever wonder how there are so many teens who are younger than you and are able to do all these things on their own..

You are you and not some other teen. Just because Usain Bolt won the Olympics his Family wont. Saying but he did so can you is the most stupid argument you can have.

Also if you only need to do the CSS/HTML don't bother going through the docs. Just do your thing backup your Project regularly and just mess with it till you get the hang of it. Progress is made by doing 1 step forth and 2 steps back.

Oh and in wordpress it really is important to document all files you changed. I mean its always important but even more so in wordpress.

And when you don't know or can do something just tell your Boss: "mkay you wanted this well i cant do that in the time restraint you gave me, why you ask? Because i don't have experience in wordpress or even php." only then spoken in the nice words People use.

Also I don't know if you can or want to, but discuss this Problem with your Supervisor from school.

  • "doing 1 step forth and 2 steps back" - Do you have that backwards? e.g. if you go 1 step backward and 2 steps forward, then that is some measurable progress.
    – Brandin
    Commented May 4, 2016 at 20:13
  • no that was intended as I and probeply others always get one awnser and 2 new Problems (if not more) Commented May 6, 2016 at 11:13

I understand how you feel. I'm a young dev myself (21 years old) making Spring apps when 10 months ago, I didn't understand xml files, let alone Spring. So it's tough learning something new. I'm sure everyone knows what that's like.

You may not like the answer, but I think your method of learning should change (maybe even the boss). There are many other ways to learn tech besides reading docs. From experience, looking at tutorials online rather than reading docs are much more helpful. If looking at docs aren't working, you should try another source of info.

Sometimes docs aren't friendly to new programmers in general, and tutorials from people give really nice explanations with pretty pictures. So instead of staring at docs, look at tutorials, download their code (if it's available) and go from there and ask questions later.

The fact that I think your boss should've changed his teaching method is because he just gave you docs and then expected something is weird, especially when he told you "I just knew".

Yes it's true programmers should be independent or else they won't learn, but that doesn't mean you can't ask questions. That's what development teams are meant for.

  • 1
    I did look for the tutorials, the thing is, I haven't find yet any tutorials and/or no tutorials at all regarding using most of the functions or how to create this or that. Mostly tutorials are more into how to use the things in client side & not about on how to use the functions in the code side. There are no dev team here. Just me, another intern who do other stuff, & another just came in doing same stuff as mine, except that intern are lucky to have me and able to ask things that I can do & what she cannot, while I have my boss.
    – Kaydarin
    Commented May 4, 2016 at 8:04
  • 3
    There's no shame in asking StackOverflow. However, the fact that you said "use the things in client side & not about on how to use the functions in the code side" makes me wonder if you are searching for the correct things.
    – bmarkham
    Commented May 4, 2016 at 8:11
  • I know you don't understand what I was saying. It's quite complicate actually. Because what I looking for is something like "How to make Google Search", but instead I got something like "How to use Google Search". That is the example, if you get what I mean. Sometimes when I ask StackOverflow, I didn't get the answer or maybe wrong answer at all. Don't get me wrong, I learn so much about my programming in StackOverflow, but sometimes, I wont get the answer with it.
    – Kaydarin
    Commented May 4, 2016 at 8:22
  • 2
    @Kaydarin I know you don't understand what I was saying. It's quite complicate actually. ... You know, I think bmarkham understands it better than you. That's the problem here. You aren't even getting the words right. And yes, most docs of things like Wordpress require that you have some basics. (btw., basics are not complicated by definition).
    – deviantfan
    Commented May 4, 2016 at 8:28
  • @deviantfan I'm sorry, there's so many things on my mind right now... I'll try to understand it first. It is just hard to speed up my brain on understanding them.
    – Kaydarin
    Commented May 4, 2016 at 8:31

is it really true, all programmer are independent?

No, it's not - but you do need to be capable of working independently when you have to.

Asking good questions will make the whole team more efficient: picking up a large codebase from scratch is difficult, and if someone can give you any pointers at all it makes a huge difference. But there are times when there will be no-one around who can help you, or you're already the expert, so it's not always an option.

That said there is a balance to be struck between asking questions and distracting the people you're asking. It's more-or-less like asking a question on StackOverflow: before you go to them do a bit of research yourself to make sure you give the impression you've at least tried to solve the problem yourself, and ask something specific as possible. (Unlike StackOverflow though it's also OK to ask early for a general direction to get started, and brainstorm ideas.) And try to limit the amount you ask: if you're genuinely stuck and unable to make any progress then do ask, but be wary of annoying people by asking too many questions and failing (from their point of view) to take on board what they've already told you.

It sounds like your boss is being unreasonable here, but you're unlikely to change his attitude: sometimes you just have to get by without any help. (Or maybe he thinks he's helped you enough already, or maybe he's trying to help you to be more independent.)

WordPress is unusual in that there's lots of documentation and examples (of varying quality) for simple stuff, but beyond a point your best option is to read and understand the relevant PHP code. (Again, just finding the relevant code is often difficult in an unfamiliar codebase.) If you just need to develop a bootstrap-based theme then your best bet would be to read up on the page selection code to understand the interface between the core code and the theme, and to look at a few simple example bootstrap-based themes to see how they work, and steal ideas and code from them liberally (it's all GPL after all).

  • I'll try my best... It's just my progress is quite slow... I tried to understand... But it keep getting confusing... Yeah, what I need is some pointers but I don't get them much... Sometimes the pointers are irrelevant...
    – Kaydarin
    Commented May 4, 2016 at 9:07

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