The offer

The problem :

Your team is currently too busy to support your early-career (aka “junior”) engineers. At the moment, you can’t quite provide new recruits with the support they need.

My approach :

Where it makes sense, I offer to pair with your early-career engineer, to help them get up to speed more comfortably.

The goal is to engage in direct collaboration with your new team member, full-time over a period of a few weeks. This is to help new recruits improve faster in the following areas : attacking problems, gaining confidence, understanding collaboration, and asking “stupid” questions.

In an ideal world, this is work that your experienced engineers whould be doing… But many teams are stretched thin and just don’t have enough time for this.

Principles

Intensify

All too often, junior engineers are thrown in at the deep end, and expected to swim. We like to do things the other way around. We start with very simple problems, and try to increase the level of challenge over time.

Overcoming Resistance

Resistance is always a factor at first. In pairing, people are afraid of looking incompetent. So, the first week should ideally in person to overcome this natural reluctance, and establish some trust.

With juniors specifically, an early goal is for them to feel free to continuously ask “stupid” questions.

Always Be Rewriting

This is particularly applicable to greenfield projects. Early-career engineers (in fact all engineers) rarely write great code the first time, and that’s OK.