Someone asked me about some valuable contributions I've seen from junior developers.
At first I was almost drawing a blank as I couldn’t think of any notable contributions by a junior.
See, that's where I was overthinking this: valuable !== notable.
So no, I haven't seen juniors create revolutionary things in the first week of joining the company, but taking 3 more seconds to think about what values they add got me some answers:
1. They contributed like how we contributed
They put in the work, working through the backlog and tasks assigned to them.
This was why I was drawing a blank: they just do work like the rest of us, nothing special there.
But the fact that there’s nothing special IS why this is special!
From the junior’s perspective, they are a burden to the team.
But from our perspective, they are just one of us who are new to the team and need some help ramping up. Sure, we have more experience with the project and therefore can make better decisions, but we typically don’t treat them specially.
2. They help uncover holes in the system
The drawback of working fast is leaving a trail of bugs and technical debt with zero documentation behind.
When a junior comes on board, their questions can help us realize the holes in our systems as well as the documentations for them.
Because they are junior, we get the opportunity to force ourselves to explain things in simpler language with easier to understand concepts — the key to good documentation.
3. They help boost team morale
Remember the part where I reminded you that more senior devs on the team are also humans?
When a respectful junior joins the team and ask the more experienced teammates questions, the person being asked instantly gain more self-confidence, authority and overall good feelings.
They are only human (once again!) and could be struggling with imposter syndrome as well!
You asking them, and them being able to help you find answers is validation that they are good enough.
The way I see it, this question is about validation.
Often times, we humans need more than someone just telling us about something — we need them to show us.
There's nothing wrong with that.
I do think it's also important to remind ourselves that change comes from within.
No matter what method I use to convince you that you are valuable, you can still choose to reject that idea.
This is why a lot of my posts are often centred around mindset changes.
Changing one's mindset can greatly help create bigger change, even though it's still up to the person to open up to that change (coming from within).