The Developer Question : Should I ask for help?

When my kids struggle with a task I tell them to ask for help. I could let them continue to struggle for hours. Or, I could offer a little advice that would help them continue to figure out their task so they succeed.

As a new developer, I often struggle with tasks that other developers could easily solve. And while I am tempted to keep quiet and continue to struggle, I have learned the value in asking for help.

Guy spending hours debugging his code without help.
Don’t be this guy

I have only been a front-end developer for a few months but I have been fortunate enough to have coworkers that allow me to ask a lot of questions. We even have a separate Slack channel now called front-end help where I can put them all.

asking questions

My coworkers might answer my questions but I was curious to know how they and other senior developers really feel about juniors asking questions.  So I asked both my coworkers and my twitter feed these three questions.

How do you feel about junior developers asking questions about or for help on an unfamiliar task?

They all answered unanimously. Every developer thought juniors should be asking questions. They even said it was the fastest way to go from a junior to a senior.

“1: IMHO it’s essential; experienced developers must create an environment where asking questions is comfortable and encouraged.”-

How long do you think a junior developer should spend looking for an answer before they ask for help?

I was surprised by the answer for this one. Almost everyone who answered said that developer’s shouldn’t be searching for answers for more than 15 to 30 minutes before asking for help. I now employ the Pomodora technique when I am stumped. I set a timer for 25 minutes and search for information on the problem I am having. If after 25 minutes, I still haven’t found an answer, I ask for help.

“If it’s been a half hour, ask for guidance. Even if it’s just to direct yourself to another bout of searches. Searching is a useful skill!” –

What would you tell a junior developer who is afraid to ask for help?

These answers were very encouraging. Here are a few.

“ Remind people that they were already hired for their smarts, and that asking questions is how we all get even smarter”

“Don’t be afraid. The devs who learn the fastest are the ones who ask questions when they need to.”

“Don’t be afraid. Even senior devs have questions. We all deal with something unfamiliar.”

See all the answers here.

Help me
Ask for help

I am no longer shy about asking questions. I quickly realized I wouldn’t succeed in my job if I wasn’t willing to ask for help. It’s not easy to admit you don’t know something but I hope reading these answer will encourage you to speak up and get help sooner rather than later. “Even senior devs have questions.”-  . None of us know everything but we can all learn something from each other. So, speak up. Asking for help is how we grow. And soon enough you will find you are the one answering questions.