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Pair to Belonging

Updated: May 9, 2023

Don’t underestimate the other power of 👩🏾‍🤝‍👨🏽 pair programming. Why not pair up with someone today?

Back in the day, when I was a junior engineer, I still fondly remember pair programming sessions with Yvo Bill, my senior teammate that I found so clever. When I would sit at his computer digging into the solution together, I didn’t only learn new methods⚡️for writing good code, but I’d notice the shortcuts he’d use that I’d adapt to my future practices. But that’s not all that I remember. I remember those sessions helped me feel like I was part of the team 💕. I also remember that terrified feeling 🙅🏽‍♀️ when he would ask me to take over the typing, that I’d be discovered at how bad I was at programming, 'd be found as the imposter 👽 I was! But that didn’t happen. Yvo was patient and kind and would ask good questions❓to get me sound problem-solving methods. Yvo never made me feel stupid, and in time, I grew in my abilities and eventually was in a position where I could sometimes teach💡him something too.

Now I’m a director 🪜, and sometimes I forget these lessons of the past, like the power of working together with someone, not asynchrony but in sync on the same task, like pair programming. Perhaps it’s because the kind of support one gets as one grows in their career can feel less supportive; sometimes it feels full of judgment 👨🏼‍⚖️ as one can find themselves sitting in a room with a group of high achievers 🏆 that are afraid to lose their seats. Or perhaps we all have so much on our plates 🏃🏾‍♂️ and are too busy and are worried that pairing could hold us back in our daily progress. Or maybe they feel similar to my own, a sense of being more afraid to show if I’m an imposter 🛸 to my colleagues as they may not think I belong in my elevated seat. So, we all push through and do all we can to master new skills in solitude, get our work done, and demonstrate this to our teams as much as possible.

Sometimes I reminisce 💭, and I miss the humble days of my early programming years

Yesterday, I was reminded of the feeling of pair programming. While sitting with my teammate and working through ideas 💡 I had been working hard on the last weeks, growth began. Before this session, I had felt my thoughts were stagnated and not mature enough to share. But, I found by sitting with my colleague, sharing, talking, listening, and typing together on the same document, my ideas were mature enough to plant a seed that sparked even more ideas in my partner 💡💡. We were sparking ✨✨✨ back and forth! My feeling of being small started to disappear, too; I felt less small. It felt refreshing! 💪🏻

My point. It doesn’t matter how far you have traveled up your career ladder. You are still seeking acceptance, belonging, and growth 🌱. Maybe if you see your fellow C-seat feeling a bit down, struggling. Reach out your hand 🤝 to them, as you would the new junior programmer in the team in years past, and ask in a nonjudging way if they’d like to work with you on something you might be struggling with. You might be surprised how this reaching out will help the one feeling disconnected and help you in your personal growth.

And if you are a senior developer, don’t forget the power of 👩🏻‍🤝‍👩🏾 pair programming with newcomers in the team, and remember to give them the keyboard too, don’t judge, but support them.

The power of pair programming is considerable!

✅ Increased productivity

✅ Improved quality

✅ Enhanced learning

✅ Promotes teamwork

🐉 From imposter to belonging!❤️‍🔥

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