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Does being on-call during early career teach you things or allow you to grow technically?

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Entry-Level Software Engineer [P3] at Atlassian2 years ago

My goal is to join a team that would allow me to have the opportunities to work on projects that have the potential to produce higher business impact & learning opportunities to grow and reach promotion in the shortest possible time. Early in my career, I don't think I would mind working longer hours or being stressed as long as it is for good reason (such as the opportunity to be promoted) and within my capacity to handle it and also as long as it is not something that is long-term and chronic stress forever.

This is why I want to understand more about oncall. I know that oncall can be very stressful, and this applies to Atlassian too. Can being oncall be good for learning, even for a junior SWE, or does it always just give you chronic stress for no good reason?

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    Robinhood, Meta, Course Hero, PayPal
    2 years ago
    • Oncall can be great for junior SWE learning, but the rotation needs to be set up well. It shouldn't be too stressful, and the oncall should have time to focus on fixing bugs and firefighting in general (vs. needing to split between roadmap work and oncall). There should be a support system (like a shadow oncall) in case the oncall can't handle the current issue.
    • The most important thing for oncalls and junior SWE learning is some sort of summary/retro system where the current oncall writes/talks about their oncall cycle. This involves going through the issues they got, how they solved them, and how the team can improve the overall codebase to prevent more issues. This allows junior SWEs to learn from more senior SWEs how they debug and pushes them to do technical writing (which will help them more deeply understand the firefighting they did) when they're oncall and need to do this.
    • Whenever I saw a more junior engineer really step it up (tackle a ton of issues and have an incredible oncall summary) on the Instagram oncall for my org, I made sure to cc their manager to make sure they got credit for it. Being a great oncall truly adds a lot of business value while allowing the oncall person to build up a lot of important skills.
Atlassian Corporation Plc is an Australian software company that develops products for software developers, project managers and other software development teams.
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