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How NOT to Join a Software Engineering Team

If you want to make enemies and create tension on a new software team you are joining (open source, enterprise, or even school projects), you should do at least one of the following:

Decide that the style the team is using is wrong

In your first PR comments, make sure to let everyone know your opinion on open and closing braces. Or your thoughts on tabs vs spaces 😅

Don’t read the README; just look at code

The documentation is probably wrong anyway, so instead of learning what is wrong with and attempting to fix it, just ignore it. Also, be sure to ignore any and all external reference material like Jira, Google Docs and the like.

Immediately suggest a new framework

If you don’t bring in a new tool or framework, why are joining that team? Surely the want you to tell them all about how Vue is better than React and how no one uses Java anymore right? Newer is always better.

Rename everything

I promise that the class name ModelPropertyBuilder is better than ModelPropBuilder. Also, excuse me while I change the variable name from int size to int arraySize. You will thank me later when you hear about the refactor I’m doing with renaming IPAddress to IpAddress 😄

Don’t ask for help from your team

You need to prove you can master any software solution — even if you have never used that build tool, framework, or continuous integration system before. Ask Stack Overflow and Google instead.

These are just some (hopefully) exaggerated and humorous examples of how to not join an existing software engineering team. The all center around a false idea that someone is right and therefore someone must also be wrong. They create animosity instead of collaboration and trust.

I’m sure there are more of these floating around in web, and I could likely spend a lot more time listing additional ways that you shouldn’t join a team. I plan to follow this up with a comprehensive list of what you should do when joining a new team, no matter what level you are.

What are some things that you have either done yourself or seen new engineers do that didn’t work and created animosity instead of collaboration?

Jesus follower | husband | IJM advocate | software engineer. I share tips and tools for building great software as a team.

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