Jake Worth

Jake Worth

Don't Ask for Advice; Ask for a Code Review

Published: August 09, 2023 • Updated: August 10, 2023 2 min read

  • career

Here’s some advice about programming, that also isn’t advice:

“Don’t ask for advice; ask for a code review.”

In this post, I’d like to explore what I think this means.

Ask For A Code Review

The truth of this adage is that when learning programming, we think there’s a trick to it, that can be solved with advice. If I…

  • …learn the right language or framework
  • …attend the best bootcamp or workshop
  • …choose the best text editor

…I’ll have an advantage. In my mentoring of new programmers, many of the questions I answer are about topics like these. I don’t think they matter much. And so, I stopped giving generalist career advice for a while because I felt like it wasn’t helping people.

Another way of thinking about this: how does one prepare for a technical interview? Well, beyond the advice you’d get on any programming blog, here’s the trick: get really good at programming. When you’re technically solid, which takes a while, technical interviews stop being scary. You can’t get there by tomorrow, but you start walking in that direction right now.

New devs tend to think their code is pretty good— I did. Respectfully, it isn’t. It’s full of bugs, waste, and anti-patterns you’d have no way of knowing about. There’s just a lot to know. When I see a newer dev requesting a code review, processing the feedback, and asking thoughtful questions, I know they’re going to succeed.

At companies like the one I work for, the technical interview is a code review of a pull request, led by the candidate. We think you can tell quickly how advanced, as well as improvisational, communicative, and kind, a programmer is, just by how they unpack a random changeset.

That’s why I’ll say yes to a code review request from someone wanting to get better. Just ask.

What are your thoughts on this? Let me know!

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