Training Junior Developers
Bartosz Cytrowski
Written by Bartosz Cytrowski
Published October 20, 2015

Training Junior Developers

Hiring programmers is hard. Finding the good ones and making them like your company or project is even harder. Today I want to tell you something about training junior developers.

One might think that it’s much easier to just look around at any university, announce an internship program, recruit and train them by yourself. I can say that it is reasonable. However I cannot say that it is easy.

Recruitment of juniors

The work with juniors starts even before they get hired – you have to recruit them, and you should do that well. It’s common that junior positions are the most popular ones among students and it’s hard to find a student that is job-ready.

However, if you accept juniors – you agree to lead them, so it’s better for you, if you request solid fundamental knowledge. If you won’t, then for sure both of you will waste a lot of time in the process.

Don’t require tooling proficiency – it comes with practice. Require knowledge – the one that is easy to acquire. If a given candidate doesn’t have it, then it means that he or she didn’t make the first step, so don’t waste your time unless your instincts tell you otherwise.

Never reject anyone without telling them why, and giving a hint about how to improve. To save some time prepare a set of resources which can help anyone return to you better in the future. Remember that everyone deserves honest feedback and your lack of patience is not an excuse here.

Incorporation

You hire juniors to incorporate them into your team. Do it smartly. Pair a junior with a senior and you will see that both parties will learn something from each other.

Let them do some meaningful work, give them hard tasks, yet not too hard. You want them to evolve, not to get frustrated. If they have problems don’t solve them by yourself, give them some hints but let the solution be theirs.

Postpone hard problems. Juniors have to learn instead of getting stuck on some roadblocks at the beginning, when their learning capabilities are the highest.

Remember that it’s you who has the experience, so if you see that your juniors are picking too much at once be able to say stop and ask them to focus on one thing that you know will let them move forward the most. Sometimes it’s good to split tasks into ridiculously small subtasks, just to let them see the next steps clearly.

Build the discipline and teach them how not to waste time. Show them your toolbox and teach them how to use it.

Juniors are usually really well motivated because they learn new things each day. However, it’s not constant. If you see that their motivation goes down, ask them to investigate a topic for you. It works really well, especially if you explain why it’s important.

Final note

To summarize: Training juniors is hard and, if done right, takes a lot of your willpower, focus and time – don’t cut costs here, otherwise your efforts will backfire. Try to train them well so that they can overtake you. Then become better and repeat 😉

And last but not least: don’t forget that we all were juniors once.

Thank you!

Written by Bartosz Cytrowski
Published October 20, 2015