Is this the week that I get fired? I must have had that thought every Monday for the first three months of working for Elegant Software Solutions (ESS). You may be asking, why would this guy feel like he is going to be fired? Maybe it would help to fill in a little background on myself.
I am a junior developer going on my second year of full time work. I got into programming as a career change move. In August, 2015 I left my full-time job of eight years to attend General Assembly’s Web Development Immersive course. It was three months of very, very long days. Each day starting with an hour and a half commute to campus followed by eight hours for class time, followed by three hours of after class homework/project work, and finally the hour and a half commute home. I learned the fundamentals of being a full stack developer over the three months but knew I would still have a long road ahead to becoming a good developer. As class was coming to an end, I was actively searching for employment.
In my search, I was looking for a company that would be not only willing to hire a very green developer, but one that would provide continued training. This is where ESS came into the picture. One of the teacher’s assistants at General Assembly had recently taken a position as an apprentice with ESS and there was another opening in the program. My hard work in class paid off when Bruce, the teacher’s assistant, recommended me to the owner of ESS, Tom Hundley. I had several interviews that last week of class but decided to go with ESS and their apprentice program. It was a great feeling knowing that I would graduate on Friday and start work on Monday.
I was on top of the world all weekend after graduation and I was still feeling the excitement when Monday came around. By Friday, I was terrified. I came home that Friday with a worried sick feeling in my stomach. That weekend my wife was so excited for me and my new career! She was asking all about the company, my new co-workers, and so on, but all I could think of was Monday was coming. Not only would I have to continue to learn new things at a rapid pace, I also had to become a productive member of my new team. It was this fear of not knowing enough and letting the team down that gave me the feeling that one day Tom would realize my skills were subpar and I would be fired. But a funny thing happened.
It was during my weekly one on one meeting with Tom when I finally told him I was worried I would be fired soon. He kind of laughed and then asked me why I thought I would be fired. I explained that my lack of skills made me feel like I would never catch up to the other developers on the team, and that if I could not produce as much as the other guys on the team I would be let go. This is when Tom made me realize I was not the first junior to have these feelings and I would not be the last. He assured me that it would be like drinking from the fire hose for about my first year. Then he explained why he hired me. He said “I can teach you all the skills you will need to be a great developer, but you have to provide the right attitude and desire to succeed.” I assured him I have the right attitude and the will to do what it takes to become a great developer.
Now going into my second year with ESS, I can say Tom was right. It has been hard and fast-paced but he and the team at ESS have made me feel right at home. As a junior developer at ESS, I have full access to tools like MSDN Enterprise, JetBrains Toolkit, Safari Books Online, and Pluralsight where Tom and the leadership team set up structured, individually scoped learning paths. We have regularly scheduled “Lunch-N-Learn” events where all the developers get to share lunch together while learning about what is new within the developer community.
One of the best things working for ESS has been my team members. They are always willing to take the time and explain new concepts to me and help me solve any problem when I get stuck. I know I still have a long road ahead to becoming a great developer but I know sticking with the ESS apprentice program will get me there.