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Making Software by Greg Wilson, Andy Oram

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Reflections

While observation log analysis summarizes the tasks that novices could be objectively seen doing, it does not capture all aspects of their experience. In particular, investigating how novices feel about what they do and why they do it may also be instructive. In this section, we organize and classify some of the reflections made by novices in video diary entries about their experiences. These reflections help round out the picture of the social and hierarchical newcomer issues that define the novice software developer experience.

Scaffolding the diary questions proved helpful in getting the subjects to think about their own learning experiences in university and industry. Particularly fruitful questions are listed here:

  • How did your university experience prepare you for your job at Microsoft?

  • What things would best prepare a college student for their first year at Microsoft?

  • If a “future you” came back to advise you now, what words of wisdom would he offer?

  • If you could go back to the past and give yourself advice at the end of your third week at Microsoft, what advice or warnings would you give?

  • How do you know when you are stuck? What do you do when that happens?

In the following sections we characterize and summarize the responses given by our subjects to these questions.

Managing Getting Engaged

When employees first arrive at a company, they face an immediate quandary. They feel the need to prove to their managers that they are smart, productive, and infallible, but they ...

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