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#jobs-discuss
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2019-01-25
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Eric Ervin01:01:46

I just saw a comment on Facebook about the "toxic culture of 'senior engineers only'". What is going on? Is the engineering job world not like I've imagined it where there is a pyramid of jobs with many junior jobs at the bottom?

ljosa02:01:31

Lots of companies grow out of startups, with a core of startup-minded senior self-starters who self-organize. That works well for a while, but then it becomes a challenge to make a larger team work well, once you add some juniors (or even seniors with different personalities than the ones who are comfortable with arguing on slack and finding their way). I’ve had a mostly happy experience, but there were definitely growing pains, and I could see that it could turn into a “toxic culture” somewhere else.

Eric Ervin02:01:01

Oh. I get it. I know a few things about technology but almost nothing about the sociology of tech companies.

seancorfield18:01:49

Silicon Valley is generally a pretty toxic place, IMO, and this is a heavy feature of a lot of SV companies. Between the “brogrammer” culture and the cutthroat VC environment, a lot of startups are very unpleasant places to work…

3Jane18:01:06

it’s not an attitude that’s unique to SV fwiw

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seancorfield18:01:51

Indeed. But the forces at play in SV amplify it and make a bad problem even worse 😞

seancorfield18:01:24

I love living in the Bay Area but I loathe Silicon Valley in general.

3Jane18:01:16

> Saying “we don’t hire juniors,” on the other hand, is an open admission that your company isn’t prepared to be part of someone’s career. It essentially advertises stagnancy: the company expects experienced and talented developers to join the company and contribute indefinitely while getting nothing but a paycheck for their efforts.

3Jane18:01:30

It drives me batty, but I’ve never met a company that does not do this

3Jane18:01:37

as in, it seems to be expected that if you want to progress, you will upskill yourself in your free time, and then go to a new company to do the job you self-trained for.

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3Jane18:01:10

I’ve talked to a number of startups in London out of curiosity and only one explicitly advertised that they were actively helping their employees grow. Mostly people just want to hire people who are proven to do X, in order to continue to do X. Like renting an X-making machine for a couple years.

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attilasztupak13:01:54

out of curiosity myself, which startup was the exception?

Daniel Hines18:01:03

Do you think a more guild-like system would solve what you're troubled by? Doctors and lawyers have networks of accreditation and years of systematic training they go through, and on the other end, people trust them with their lives, because they trust the guild's judgment of that individual. Would that be better?

3Jane18:01:25

…and they’re also known for gatekeeping aspiring doctors/lawyers and restricting new members only to families whose tradition it is to be doctors/lawyers

3Jane18:01:02

(in short, I don’t know, but these specific examples do not have a good reputation)

trevor19:01:46

Conway’s law in action

trevor19:01:50

It would be interesting to hear from remote and onsite based companies

dpsutton19:01:50

i can think of several employers who "don't hire juniors" but I doubt we would consider them as not willing to be part of someone's career

dpsutton19:01:00

not really sure what that means for an employer to not be part of your career

dpsutton19:01:28

Jane street and cognitect both jump to mind. Neither one probably has spots for juniors. And that's not a bad thing or a mark of "stagnancy" of the company

trevor19:01:01

It really depends on what you mean by Junior/Senior

dpsutton19:01:05

I think Netflix is like this to, no? They only hire experienced devs and pay them a very high salary

trevor19:01:22

They would hire smart and intelligent people… regardless of experience

donaldball20:01:57

I think it’s fair to conclude that companies who don’t hire early-career developers aren’t willing to be a part of someone’s full career trajectory and that may be perfectly okay, e.g. for a consultancy that sells expert developer services. I work at a remote shop, we hire folk at all stages of their career trajectories, and it’s a net benefit to us tbh. Folk earlier in their careers can ask more incisive questions and see obvious deficiencies that those of us who’ve been in the game a long time tend to overlook. Moreover, it can really invigorate a later-career dev who’s in a slump to mentor an inquisitive early-career dev.

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taylor20:01:42

yeah I’ve had a lot of fun indoctrinating people to the Clojure lifestyle

taylor20:01:53

I’ve worked at a couple places that valued training people up from intern/junior/etc., and it worked very well. It’s a shame it’s not more common because there’s a lot of untapped potential out there

alexlynham20:01:27

idk imo you have to hire juniors, but finding seniors that want to mentor, let alone finding those that can mentor is another thing

alexlynham20:01:56

besides the fact that bad mentors will just embed bad practice

alexlynham20:01:08

see also: expert beginners

alexlynham21:01:59

> For these reasons, a pairing of one junior and one senior developer is generally equivalent to two senior developers this isn't right tho - there's a cost, it's just probably not as bad as most people think, but still more than this author hand-waves it away

apohorecki16:01:45

I disagree with the statement that "senior+junior" == "senior+senior". In my experience, the two types of pair-programming are very different. Both are useful, but I think with one person mentoring the other, you won't get significantly different code than that senior working alone.

apohorecki16:01:31

I mean with any kind of pair programming you get these moments where the other person suggests something that simplifies the solution significantly and saves the pair a lot of work

apohorecki16:01:09

but I have seen this much more when pairing with a person with a similar amount of experience

alexlynham21:01:26

still, if you hire smart juniors they often sink or swim

alexlynham21:01:06

and as long as you have some folks looking out for them, they'll be fine in the long run...

vemv21:01:51

not only that: junior devs have energy older folks may not have, and willingness to do tasks that the seniors might disdain (some 3rd party integration or CRUD thingy) a young smart mind is gold 🙂

alexlynham21:01:12

my last task before leaving in my current job has been to build and stabilize a new team to take over a project and there's me and two other seniors (with me leaving soon), a very smart mid and a junior. Took less than a week for the team dynamic to stabilize out into something productive and fun

alexlynham21:01:33

(the mid & junior were the people I asked to be assigned, to be clear)

alexlynham21:01:52

having a team of diverse experience is a smart bet, but it's quite hard to quantify why. It's also now about 50/50 male/female identifying and that's also been a great thing in my experience, again though I'd have a hard time putting my finger on it but it seems more fun/supportive/less toxic

alexlynham21:01:14

idk, diversity for the win in general

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dpsutton21:01:47

I agree with all of these points about the benefits of young and junior developers. My point was solely that a company only hiring senior/experienced devs is not necessarily a negative

3Jane21:01:11

Sure! Greatly depends on the reason. “We don’t have work for juniors” is valid; “we don’t want to invest in people and then have them leave” is a smell.

Eric Ervin23:01:06

Great discussion.