Apprenticeship Pattern – Sweep the Floor

For my last apprenticeship pattern blog post, I felt that the pattern Sweep the Floor was appropriate given where I currently am at in my career, given that I hope to be starting in the very near future. This pattern refers to the scenario in which you’re a new apprentice on a project or a new member of a team and you’re not sure what your place is in the team, so you want to contribute and earn the team’s trust. The solution to this is to volunteer for simple, necessary tasks that no one else wants to do and to make sure to do a great job with them. Of course, you want to make sure that you don’t end up only doing menial tasks that no one else wants to do and that you’re given more challenging assignments after proving yourself “worthy”.

As I said earlier, this pattern is probably one of the most applicable to me at the moment, because once I start I can see myself in almost the exact same scenario as described in the pattern. I always figured that most junior level roles start with you being assigned simple tasks like one-liner bug fixes to help you get acquainted with the code base, but I hadn’t considered that it would be a good idea to take on tasks like literally sweeping the floor in order to build confidence as a member of the team. Of course, I don’t entirely agree with consistently taking on tasks that aren’t relevant to what you want to work towards, but there’s merit in doing menial labor when you happen upon it. As long as you make sure to let it be known that you want to be challenged and not just be comfortable standing still working as the team’s gopher.

Overall, I would say that it’s very likely that I’ll end up using this pattern in the very near future, so hopefully I remember to avoid the negative consequences of applying it. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if this pattern would be useful for me anytime I happen to enter a new team, not just my first one.

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