on Juniors being Scared

December 1, 2023

I've been working with these two juniors lately. Smart and proactive, the kind that is really a pleasure to work with. Every time I meet with them, they are very thoughful, ask great questions and when they're stuck, they've already tried a whole bunch of things and bring a solid understanding of the issue at hand. Let's call them Jo and Sa.

Last week I had to buy myself some time to push forward a given project. So I used the lowest of smokescreen tactics to pretend the project these wonderful kids were involved in, had a lot going on. This is not to say the later project does not have a lot going on, but sometimes, you have to pretend stuff, to the detriment of actually getting stuff done.

So I took Jo and Sa, who do not have access to a particular environment, and set them up with a different junior, who does, to peform a task. Let's call this new character Al.

Al, cares very little about technolgy and also defines the very opposite of "hard working." But he is great at pretending stuff is going on. So I piggy backed on him, to help my situation. In this particular project I am the senior in charge of "telling people off." So I warned Jo and Sa:

– In my entire professional carreer, Al is the person I've given most "tells-off." –

(I hope "tells-off" is a word). And sent them on their merry way.

Once I checked back on them, to no surprise, they brought some well though insights: They expressed their fears as they saw in Al what you could become as a tech worker. The good news was, they were happy working with me. I had them programming in Python, following best practices and putting them in situatations where they could learn, develop new skills and be creative. But they saw Al, having very little clue about what he was doing and working with one of these no-code tools. That looked dreadful to them and filled them with worries about their future projects.

It also looks dreadful to me. And I share the same fears. But I worry about the prospects of junior team members in the current tech environment. Where there is a search for commodification of thecnical work. I feel that, when I started working, no-code tools where very niche, and some degree of technical competence was expected. Everyone more senior than I was, was someone I could learn from.

But these kids are seing people their senior with less than a tenth of their competence.

I made very explicit to them that I also share their fears. I've also put a lot of work to minimize my usage of these technologies which I find dreadful. First and foremost business intelligence visualization tools, and any kind of no-code in general. My tactics have ranged from carefuly adjusting my vacations around proyect dates (to be unavailable for visualization) to expressing my complete ignorance and unwillingness to learn.

I felt quite proud that I had managed to motivate and inspire these kids in their day to day work. But it saddens me to add two more competent fellas into the pits of technology dreaders.