The first task of my Project was to write the Product Specifications of the Project. The goal of my project is to build Bugzilla Webhooks. Now that I’m writing, seems so obvious what I was supposed to do and maybe easy. But at that moment I was really confused and I felt I was doing everything wrong and also I thought that my mentors would though I wasn’t enough to achieve the Project and my internship would end for that reason.
To understand better my context, all my contributions to the Outreachy application were of code, and in fact I use to do more code, I feel more confident with it because I’m sure of what should I achieve and I know better how to manage with that kind of problems.
My mentor wrote the first part of the document and some instructions, questions, and resources to help me to know what I should write to complete the document.
At first, I was like oh ok this will be the easiest part of the project. But while I was reading more resources and Documentation of other Webhooks I was more confused about what should I wrote in each section and for what was that document. I was doing what I understand in that moment but all the time I felt that what I was doing wasn’t right and also I thought that what I was doing seems like it was so few work and for that reason I was also afraid of my mentor thought I wasn’t working the time I was supposed or that I wasn’t enough good to achieve the project.
And then you could be thinking, why didn’t you ask your mentor for more detailed instructions or something? Well after struggling a bit and imagine a lot of bad scenarios I thought that too. And when I decided to ask I realized that in fact, I wasn’t sure of what ask. So I started reviewing again everything that was given to me and writing what I didn’t understand and while I was writing the questions everything started to get clearer and I saw that in fact there was many thing that I knew and others that I could easly google it. And then I discovered that in fact that is called “rubber duck” debugging. Then I was feeling more confident while I was doing that and finally I reach a first version of the document, and I sent it to my mentor with some questions and asking for feedback.
After that, she answered me and I could correct something, work better, and left the feeling of doing everything wrong behind.
Another cause of that feeling was due to the thought that there is only one correct way that I had from the school. This is my first job experience and at the beginning, I felt my mentors more like my teachers expecting score my work and disappointed if what I’d do wasn’t what they thought. And now I feel them what they really are: my mentors, experienced people that are there to help me achieve the goals of the project and part of my team.
So what I’ve learned until now and would like to say especially to students interns is:
- Mentors are part of your team and are there to help you, not to score you, aren't teachers.
- "Rubber duck" debugging could help you a lot to unstuck yourself and to formulate better questions to ask.
- Don't hesitate to ask, as I said, mentors are there to help you.
- But as I said they are part of your team, they have their own work and maybe they can't answer you immediately but they will do it. Don't despair.