Avoid Working Alone

Dear new developer,

I suggest that the first job you take be the one with the highest learning potential, not the highest earning potential. (This post contrasts the two, in the context of entrepreneurship.) This can vary depending on your skills and needs, but I’ve seen over and over again that you learn more with one or more team members than you do alone. Other technical people working on the same problems, even if they are new as well, will elevate you.

They’ll bring a world of difference that you can learn from, including (but not limited to):

  • technical tools
  • approaches
  • understandings of the problem

As you work with them, try to understand where they are coming from and appreciate it, especially as it relates to solving the problem. Building this empathy for others is really really important.

Now, what can you do if you get hired and are the only technical person on staff (either as a contractor or employee)? Luckily, understanding others and building empathy doesn’t just work with developers, so you can work on that aspect, even though the problems and language may be a bit further from your comfort zone. As far as learning differences in technical tools, I suggest you join a meetup or an online community or both.



10 thoughts on “Avoid Working Alone

  1. Added my own personal addendum to this here: https://micro.agundy.com/2019/10/05/re-avoid-working.html

    If you join a team who has you working alone, do not be afraid to push back. Some groups especially when small have large silos of isolated work that all need being tackled. Putting one person on each thing is a poor strategy for long term team health and velocity. Even as a new developer, you can contribute across the team. Some ideas to get started:

    – Ask your manager what they are working on.
    – Read through other systems documentation or even just launch it and click around
    – Volunteer to help review or contribute across projects.

    This will be incredibly helpful for you and for your team. As a new developer you can offer new insights and reaching across teams helps others improve by encouraging less overly complex solutions. You will also begin to level up and pick up on where changes need to be made to improve confidence.


    1. A boss once told me that improving documentation is a way to not feel so bad about interrupting busy people’s time. I love documentation and making the next person’s life that much easier.

      Volunteering is a great way to help others out and learn at the same time.


  2. One of the good things about nearby and accessible co-workers is the “another pair of eyes” effect … we all come from different perspectives, so being able to see a problem or solution in a different context or through different rose-colored glasses will expand everyone’s understanding. While this is possible with remote workers, in my experience trying to explain perspective or question intent via email is much less productive and efficient than face-to-face communication.


    1. Totally agree. Even if you are remote on a team, you can use screensharing, though it’s not quite as high bandwidth as reaching over someone’s shoulder. But if you don’t have a team at all, no one has context and explaining perspective is even harder.


      1. At least you are honest and brave because you displayed my nasty comment.
        Sorry though
        Thank you for sharing your opinion


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