My first three months as a Junior Software Engineer

Ever felt anxious or stressed when starting a new job, unsure what to expect or how you’ll be welcomed? I have these kinds of fears when starting every new job. So naturally, I was nervous when I joined Pollen as a Junior Engineer – but it turned out to be completely different to what I had expected.

My first day

I remember my first day clearly. I had to come to the office for 10am which made me happy as I don’t like waking up early! I was greeted by my manager (who I’d met during the interview) and given a brand new laptop and instructions how to set everything up. Later on, the team had planned a welcome lunch for me, a tradition at Pollen to greet new starters and give them the opportunity to meet other people in the team. I had a really nice time grabbing a bite with my future teammates – and since then, I’ve attended quite a few of those lunches for other new starters as I think they’re a great way for newcomers to feel welcome and more confident around the people they’ll be working with.

After lunch, I had a pair of 1-1 programming sessions with my manager. From the very beginning, my manager spent time mentoring me and giving me advice on my work. It made me feel supported and gave me the confidence to jump straight into my first tasks and start working on the codebase really quickly. But also I was assured that my abilities were valued and put to use right from the beginning.

Mentorship at Pollen

It turned out that my first day at Pollen was just the beginning of a great adventure full of new challenges and positive work experiences. The mentorship continued throughout the next months with weekly 1-1 catch ups with my manager, where we’d chat through my progress and where I could improve. Those meetings are also a chance for me to discuss what I thought went well, or if I was bothered about anything during the week. But what I valued most was that I always came away with actions or solutions, which made me feel I could be completely honest about what was important to me – and that nothing I discussed would be forgotten. It still gives me stability, and means my manager and I have built a relationship based on trust and mutual support.

The other part of my mentorship is continued pair programming sessions, which are centered around improving my abilities in coding. I use the sessions to ask about any challenges I’d had, and they’re great for learning new ways of approaching problems and finding alternative solutions.

A collaborative approach

This brings me to another important part of working at Pollen: being surrounded by people who are always willing to help, answer any question and work together to come to a solution. Even if your teammates are busy you can always reach out to another team or put a request on a slack channel. At first I felt uncomfortable sharing my lack of knowledge with a group, but no one judges, everyone just helps – and as my confidence in my ability grows, the more I try and answers newcomers’ questions too.

This also extends further: one of the most helpful learning experiences is how we give and receive code reviews. After submitting a PR, another engineer has to review it and leave comments before the code is merged. Reviews suggest potential solutions and different approaches, but also give feedback if the code was handled well – it’s about starting a discussion about the code rather than forcing one person’s way.

But what’s really great about the code review process is that taking part in it is encouraged not only among senior engineers but also juniors and interns. Even if the code is supplied by the senior, anyone on the team can jump in to have a look and leave comments. It means we’re all constantly learning from each other and can share different solutions to a problem – and it’s a great opportunity for younger programmers to get involved.

People are Pollen’s greatest asset

The things I’ve mentioned above are only some of my experiences at Pollen for the last few months, but they’re important because they make me feel comfortable and safe in my new work environment. I now feel supported so that I can grow and become a better engineer – and already my abilities are developing as I’m dealing with more challenging tasks.

I know that a lot of tech companies claim that people are their greatest asset, but Pollen puts it into practice. I want to say I was lucky to be hired by Pollen, but it shouldn’t be a matter of luck to work in a healthy and supportive environment.

I hope you have similar experiences in your companies where you feel you can spread your programming wings and be your best self.

P.S. But hey, if not – we’re hiring 😉