Failing as a junior developer

I’ve been a software engineer for the last 15 months (for more on my experience on the Guardian’s Digital Fellowship, see here).

Photo by Nick Owuor (astro.nic.visuals) on Unsplash

I’ve been failing a lot recently

Sometimes failing quietly and sometimes failing in very public ways at work.

What kind of failure are we talking about here?

Failure is showing up for me in a few different ways.

Senior developers fail all the time

Whilst observing my own experiences of failing, I do note that very senior developers are also failing and quite frequently too.

Fear of failure is not new for me

I seem to fear failing, because I’m scared of not being respected, valued and ultimately loved. There is a lot to unpack in this statement. As a child I may have internalised an idea that if I get something wrong on a maths test, my parents might feel sad and therefore they might not love me as much. Of course this is not the case, but nevertheless there began an unending avoidance of failure.

Photo by Chris Liverani on Unsplash
Mathematical Mindsets: Unleashing Students’ Potential through Creative Math by Jo Boaler

The problem with running away from what scares you

Being too scared to try is a recipe for disaster, because there is no growth, no learning and no progress. All of the things that are our worst enemies as junior developers.

Adopting a growth mindset

Early on in life, I seem to have adopted a fixed mindset, rather than a growth mindset.

How do you adopt a growth mindset?

When I notice myself feeling emotional because I’ve made a mistake, I try to remind myself that this is me learning. I try to celebrate the mistake in my mind.

Photo of Nicki Minaj on
Photo by Ahmad Omari on Unsplash

Failing with style

There definitely is a way to fail with style. After causing another mistake that affected colleagues across my department, I was drafting a message to write on our internal chat.

Take regular breaks

It’s vital to be your own best friend as a junior engineer.

Photo by Olumide Longe on Unsplash. I chose this pic because it reminded me of the superpowers we hold as junior engineers ❤️💪🏽

The journey continues

Adopting a growth mindset takes time. It requires unlearning years and years of habits, but each journey starts with a single step.

Junior developer

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