Pattern 7 – Sweep The Floor

I decided to read “Sweep The Floor” for this week’s post. This pattern discusses the idea that even if you feel overwhelmed and unable to contribute to your team, there are still ways that you can contribute. This means that even if you can’t tackle the complicated tasks and project straight out of the gate when you start a position, it is still important to be involved and demonstrate that you can deliver quality work in some way, shape, or form.

This is great advice especially for us newly graduating apprentices. When I was at both of my internships, I did plenty of “floor sweeping”. This was anything from writing up documentation, drawing out flow patterns, taking notes during meetings, and writing unit tests. One of the biggest benefits to sweeping the floor when you start a new job, is that you are learning the business logic first, then tackling the complex coding challenges that come with the job as well. For example, this way if your company is working on software that has five different user types and dozens of permissions that require different user types for access, you can learn how this works through writing the documentation and use this knowledge in future tasks for the software. You might even find yourself leading a discussion on the business logic even though you might not have contributed notably on a technical level. From my experience, it made me feel like I was one of the team. I could contribute to conversations, and offer ideas for possible solutions even though I wasn’t entirely comfortable with how to write the code for the particular task.

I also don’t think that this is limited to newly graduating professionals, or even in the world of software development. This line of thinking can be applied to all facets of business, as there are always menial tasks that no one wants to do but offer a learning avenue with a lower risk. When I worked in a hardware store/rental center, I had to learn the software we used as well as how all of our equipment worked. I cleaned the equipment and wrote up requests for customers as a way to learn more about diagnosing machines and giving customers better feedback when they called. Sweeping the floor is good advice both literally and figuratively.

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