8

I'm an intern for 6 weeks as programmer (theoretically) - this is my first working experience ever and I'm unsure about a lot of things.

The last 4 working days (I started on the 1st of June) were spent without ever contacting anyone, trying to make something that can be useful for the current project.

Is it wrong? I have in general a hard time when it comes to communicating people. It indeed happened in some of the first days, but almost nothing since.

What is the right behaviour?

closed as primarily opinion-based by Lilienthal, Chris E, HopelessN00b, AndreiROM, IDrinkandIKnowThings Jun 13 '16 at 14:48

Many good questions generate some degree of opinion based on expert experience, but answers to this question will tend to be almost entirely based on opinions, rather than facts, references, or specific expertise. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

  • "It indeed happened in some of the first days, but almost nothing since." - can you clarify this? What happened in the first few days? Contacting people, or not contacting people? – Brandin Jun 13 '16 at 12:54
  • @Brandin the former. – Zoltán Schmidt Jun 13 '16 at 12:57
  • What is were spent without ever contacting anyone? Please edit your question and remove this passive tense, so that we actually know who you are talking about. – Jan Doggen Jun 13 '16 at 17:37
  • 2
    Possibly related: workplace.stackexchange.com/questions/2644/… – Jan Doggen Jun 13 '16 at 17:38
17

In general NO, you should not be silent.

At the moment I am in a similar position(or used to be..), as I am just about to finish my internship. At the start I wasn't too sure how to handle lots of things, I was shy to ask when I encountered a problem and this resulted quite some issues, mainly with performance.

There were talks with my manager regarding my performance and why it was stalling. I explained to him what my issues were and got some advice from him. Since then, to be honest, things are going only the right way. When I have a problem I try to fix it by my own(which you should always try to do, at the end of the day you are there to learn!), but if this starts to take too much time I stand up for it and speak to someone. Asking questions is not a bad thing, provided that you did try to solve it yourself first.

Obviously, when you're stuck you need help, regardless who you get it from. The guys which are already experienced in the product are the best place to turn for help.

As to the other benefits of not staying silent: this way you can form friendships, get help easier over time, satisfy your positions requirements, learn a lot about things which are not entirely focused on the thing you are doing at the moment(internal meetings, negotiations, other general stuff which applies to most jobs)

I suppose from time to time you will get a chance to go out with your co-workers just to socialise - going for a drink, bowling game or whatever - this is a great opportunity to get to know them! Do not miss it!

If you ever have some issues with the workplace working conditions - never stay silent about them, mention them in the first possible moment, so that actions can be taken. This will only make you feel more comfortable in the long run and nobody will think bad of you. After all you are a human being.

Not to forget - for not contacting with other fellow co-workers you risk getting lower grades on your communication skills, or even on your performance skills. You might not hear about this at all, but you can be sure that your manager is watching you closely.

  • While I agree that if you know someone else in the company has the knowledge you seek, you shouldn't bother someone for every little problem you encounter. Remember, by asking someone else, you're effectively halting their progress, until they've finished helping you. And then a little (to get back in the zone). After all, part of your job as a Software Developer, is to be able to seek out and implement solutions to problems you've likely never encountered before! – Falgantil Jun 13 '16 at 12:44
  • I did a wrong emphasis on this, you are correct, I will fix it :) – Phantomazi Jun 13 '16 at 12:45
  • It should be mentionned that this does not only apply to interns. It's a good general rule to follow as a team member. Search for yourself first but don't get stuck and ask your team for help. This is how you all progress as a team. As you gain experience you'll slowly switch from the side that asks to the side that helps. – ereOn Jun 13 '16 at 14:46
7

Staying silent is not a good way to learn about the organization or the craft, nor is it a good way to create connections.

Do everything you can to make as much of an impression as you can. Go out of your way to learn the work, the place, and the people. Everyone is busy, obviously, but do you best to steal a few minutes and learn what they do. Ask question about what you've been tasked with, nothing worse then finding out you've done it all wrong after you turn in your work.

4

Part of your job as an intern is to learn as much as possible, this cannot be done without communication.

Because you are an intern it is expected that you won't know much of anything. By being silent you are depriving both yourself and your team of opportunities. You are depriving yourself of the opportunity to learn, and your coworkers the opportunity to teach.

Do not underestimate the value you bring by giving your coworkers the opportunity to teach. Teaching an intern or new employee forces one to review one's own knowledge, brush up on techniques and methods, and even question the validity of those. I've personally found that when I've instructed others, It makes me sharper on the subject matter.

Reach out, ask, communicate, and sometimes just socialize. It is never worth it to be silent.

2

As someone who really enjoys mentoring interns/inexperienced developers I'd say definitely don't stay silent! As others have mentioned, you're not expected to know everything and in a well-organised company there should be time allocated for more senior developers to pass on their knowledge. In the long run making you more productive benefits everyone.

A couple of tips:

  • There may be some periods (hopefully hours/days rather than weeks) which are real crunch periods and more junior developers may be expected to fend for themselves. Generally these should be the exception, not the rule and it ought to be obvious when they're occurring.
  • Try to never ask the same question twice! I always try to keep electronic notes to help me with this.

All that said, I would never go as long as 4 days without checking in on a more junior developer assigned to me as I know it can sometimes be difficult to approach someone you're not sure of their workload etc. Quite often a quick 'how's it going' will open the door to some programming discussion which can save a lot of wasted time.

  • Weclome Tom. +1 for the answer. Good advice. As someone who's mentored myself, the only thing I would say is that I expect to get the same question twice, but not a third time. – Retired Codger Jun 13 '16 at 14:41

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