Asking as a Junior

Overcome the hesitation of raising questions

Switching from schooling to the working world is not easy. New people, new culture, new workflow. The urge to learn quickly, prove one's self, and build up self-worth.

Being a junior is where everyone once began. It's the point where we start discovering things to learn and develop. And there comes a roadblock: When to raise a question?

But more importantly. Should or Shouldn't? And how?

The Hesitation

Of course, the upfront hesitance can fall into these three common thoughts.

"I'm bothering people."

You bump into an obstacle, and you need help. You look for the question-guy and state it clearly. That's not bothering. You're just doing your job.

"I'm making a fool of myself."

Unless you decide to go for it at all cost and no touch-base with anybody, you won't. Working based on assumption likely generates massive rework, i.e., results in a mess that requires a team-effort involvement.

"I got this."

It's hard to resist the feeling of being proactive & talented, especially to those who are eager to prove themselves. As good as it sounds, this temptation may trigger juniors to throw their decisions on a whim constantly.

Have you ever heard about the combination of enthusiasm and stupidity? Yes? Good.

So, what's next?

Ask wisely

Try out every of your attempt. You'll be surprised by how much info you gather in this interim. Not to mention, you can even solve the puzzle yourself. Splendid, I know.

Providing a potential answer. Bring up the topic and assume a possible response. A discussion is more valuable than a mundane yes/no. Plus, open-ended questions triggers people to look beyond the box.

Be Picky

In terms of the timezone and the people to ask.

Define the difficulty level and find the right one to ping. You don't run to the tech lead for something that a teammate can resolve. And indeed, a fresher can't help you make any critical decision for the whole codebase.

And yes, the right time to ask. This might get a bit tricky since timeline is intangible. Pay a bit more attention to what they're working on. It's not a good move to pop a question while they're conducting a meeting.

Get it packed up

Be specific about what you know and what you don't. Then convey it. Do everyone (and you yourself) a favor by asking all those queries at once. It's better to list an answer sheet in 30 minutes straight, rather than getting impeded every 5 minutes.

The truth

We're not always surrounded by wisdom & creativity. Somebody has to ask questions. And stupid questions are one of them.

Nothing wrong with clarification. Honesty saves everyone's time. Result-oriented is what we seek for and verify a problem's tactical helps us achieve it more quickly.

Being honest won't hurt your chance of success. Being stubborn will. If you don't get it, ask it again. This only shows that you care about your work enough to overcome the fear and recalcitrance.

To sum up

  • Don't be afraid.
  • Ask when you need.
  • Ask open-ended questions.

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