You will ask many, many questions

This is a guest post from Jen Weber. Enjoy.

Dear new developer,

Welcome! I’m so glad you are here. We need your help to build accessible apps, inclusive engineering teams, and incredible products.

What I want you to know today is that it is normal to ask many, many questions.

There is so much that you will learn on your journey! But that can be overwhelming at first. As you start working at a new job or on a new project, you might be wondering, “How do I learn all this information? Am I supposed to already know this or that thing? What do people expect of me?”

I don’t expect you to know everything, or to even have a plan about what sorts of things to learn. What I expect is that you will ask at least one hundred questions in your first month on the job. Maybe even in your first week or two. That’s right. One hundred. This is normal. I also expect you to take notes, because I bet that you will not be able to remember everything when you are learning so much at once.

Are you worried that you will annoy your new coworkers with so many questions? Believe it or not, the way to approach this concern is by asking more questions. Here are some examples:

How do you prefer that I share my questions?
Is there anyone else I should chat with about this or that thing?
Do you want me to group my questions together or can I just message you as soon as they come up?
Can we schedule a quick call each day to go through some of my questions?
Is there anything you would like me to do differently when asking questions?
Where should I search before bringing a question to you?

One of our responsibilities as developers is to figure out how to work together effectively. Each person on the team may have different communication preferences, and we will learn gradually what we all need. I spend more time communicating than I do writing lines of code, and so I really appreciate it when someone takes the time to consider me and ask for feedback.

In closing, I will leave you with one question of my own. Will you promise me that you will try to be gentle and patient with yourself today?

Best wishes,
Jen Weber

Jen Weber (she/they) is a senior software engineer, tech writer, and Ember.js core team member. She loves open source, rapid prototyping, and making tech a more welcoming industry. Her writing is found scattered across the internet and at https://www.jenweber.dev/

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