August 17, 2015

Confidence comes with practice

Niilo Korkiakoski

Software Developer Trainee, Tieto,

A cartoon character called Jake the Dog once said that sucking at something is the first step towards being sort of good at something. I find that to be very much true, and the key to this is confidence. Being confident in your own abilities to learn and produce results means that the results will eventually come. Being a trainee means that you’re still learning the ropes but some degree of expertise is still expected of you instead of just twiddling your thumbs for the summer.

The first days at a new job can be tough. Consider this: you’re starting a new job at a new company, complete with new colleagues, new offices, new tools and whatnot. With any luck you’d get thrown into a client project and results are expected at the end of the week. The laptop you’re provided won’t connect to the Wi-Fi, you can’t figure out how to set up the development environment, everyone that could help you is on vacation and the boss is breathing down your neck. Sound familiar?

My start wasn’t quite as rocky, even though my supervisor’s reaction to my arrival on a Monday in May was along the lines of “Oh man, that was today?!” Not much time was wasted though: a spare laptop was produced from a seemingly random cabinet, I signed some papers and found the coffee dispenser, the latter of which is a double-edged sword. The coffee is fairly good and readily available so you drink a few cups and suddenly find yourself jittering and shaking.

I was tasked with a client project and it gave me great pleasure to see that my last year’s handiwork was being used in this one. After a few weeks of learning a particular JS framework through trial and error I joined a conference call that “probably won’t concern me.” Nope. A new internal project got kicked off right after that call, focusing on creating a tool for managing resources and learning the MEAN stack while doing it.

Okay, I thought, this is pretty nice, I get to learn by doing and get to work with a team. Then I realized that midsummer was right around the corner, but I was confident that not everyone would go on vacation. Then Murphy’s Law kicked in, the Finns went on holiday and I was stuck in the Aku office. A bit of an exaggeration, I did still have the developers located in Pune to ask for advice when I ran into a wall so I was never really alone.

Previously I had little to no experience from web development, but the ease of scaffolding an app, sticking a couple of frameworks on it and then just coding until the required features start appearing was surprisingly fun. It also helps that the web is crawling with tons of tutorials, how-to-guides and Stack Overflow. No matter how simple or stupid a problem seems, a quick search proved that many others had had the exact same problem and multiple solutions were thoroughly explained.

With each passing day the application shaped up just a little bit more. Seeing the progress you make gives you energy and motivation to keep at it and splitting a large feature into smaller tasks keeps you from getting overwhelmed, much like an assembly line where building a car is divided into a thousand small bits. Practice makes perfect!

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