A junior developers' guide to success in programming
May 11, 2022
Starting out as a junior software developer can be challenging and overwhelming. Juggling meetings, writing code, debugging, sprints, and testing is bound to make anyone dizzy. You also need to navigate the ever-present pressure to learn and improve.
Although it’s a scary prospect, it can be very rewarding if you stick to it. This article explores survival tips to keep under your belt as you jump into the programming jungle.
If you’re a recent grad starting out as a new developer or a self-taught fresher looking for a new gig and have a well-formatted resume, you’re in the right place. Remember, even the senior developers started where you are right now and had to learn the ropes.
How did they do it? Hold onto your hat and read on.
Red flags to avoid when choosing your employer
While no job is faultless, some are much less so than others. Here are several red flags to look for in a firm to help you as a junior developer:
No technical/peer reviews
The firm does not conduct peer or technical reviews. This is most likely a warning that the leadership is unwilling to accept criticism, which can create hostile work environments. It could also indicate that they will be unforgiving of your errors.
No opportunities for continued education
Keep an eye out for a firm that views continuing education as something that developers should undertake in their ‘spare time.’ This is an indication that a firm isn't interested in you in the long run.
The workforce isn’t diverse
This should go without saying, but organizations that aren't diversified are likely to have serious problems at their roots. Diversity can mean many things from race to gender, physical ability, and lifestyle.
Lack of diversity in the workforce fosters a hostile work environment and inevitably affects employee turnover.
Poor documentation at the team level will create problems, additional work, stress, and other issues.
Some organizations may just lack a functional system, but you should be wary of a team who refuse to document their work. It will pop back up, and not in a positive way.
Your workflow is managed by the company
You must be taught workflow and best practices as a junior developer, but this is not the same as being controlled. Everybody works in a different way. If your organization or manager is overly strict about how you work, it could indicate that they are inflexible.
Graduate degrees, coding courses, and boot camps might teach you how to write code, but the real programming world is a bit more complicated.
You might find yourself grappling with new issues such as code written by other developers, complex design patterns, and new tech. Getting to know your colleagues, working together in teams can be tricky. You could even be tasked with managing a client in a different timezone with an international phone number.
These issues take some getting used to. Every developer has knowledge gaps, especially when starting a new role. Maintain your focus if some things don’t make sense at the beginning.
The dynamic nature of software development is among the career’s best characteristics. Rise up to the challenge and see it as an opportunity for growth and personal improvement.
Don’t isolate yourself
We all need a little help now and again, no matter how brilliant you are. Be open to criticism and try not to isolate yourself from others. It’s okay to ask questions, you don’t have to solve every problem alone.
Use the experience and expertise of your colleagues to your advantage. Developers work in teams for a good reason. Team members might know more or spot flaws that you miss.
Keep things simple
Many junior developers are guilty of trying too hard to impress. While there’s no harm in indulging your creativity, you must remember that there is a natural order to learning.
Avoid showboating practices such as using fancy techniques within code, it could give rise to serious issues. You could end up producing code that doesn’t integrate with the overall system and is harder to manage.
Keep things simple and learn as you go. You don’t have to reinvent the wheel on your first day.
Protect your mental health
Whether you’re working at a global conglomerate or a startup software agency, they employ you because you are good at your job. Many new hires suffer from anxiety, impostor syndrome, and feelings of inadequacy.
Protect your mental space and focus your energy towards improving your skills. Create a support system at your workplace. This can give you better coping skills and help you build a healthy work/personal life balance.
Stop and regroup
Try to maintain a broad outlook beyond the task in front you. Stop and consider how your work will affect the final product. Will your contributions cause problems for team members? Will it integrate well with other systems and apps?
If you’re involved in cross-platform or hybrid mobile app development, how will the app perform on the other system? Will it pass app store testing? Have your contributions made life easy for those who will be responsible for maintaining or upgrading the app?
Deal with office politics
Office politics is as inevitable as bad weather, no matter the industry you find yourself in. You must learn how to deal with it without letting it affect your work.
Understand the rules of the company. Build your social network and make sure you keep an eye out for informal networks as well. Navigating the complex world of office politics can be the difference between a fulfilled career and an unfulfilling one.
Develop soft skills
You might be great at coding, but your work life does not start and end there. You need some crucial non-developer skills to survive.
Develop soft skills such as communication (writing proper emails or presentations) and time management. These skills will improve your ability to collaborate effectively with other developers.
Your programming career can be a fulfilling journey if you start out with the right approach. Use your time as a junior developer to identify your inner programming persona. It’s okay to make mistakes, so long as you learn from them.
Remember to have fun, everything looks better with a smile painted on. Find creative ways to make mundane tasks like coding and debugging fun. Learn to fall in love with the job and you’ll be well on your way towards an exciting career.
About the author:
Severine Hierso is EMEA Senior Product Marketing Manager for RingCentral Office, the leader in cloud communications solutions, and is passionate about creating value, differentiation and messaging, ensuring a better experience for customers and partners. She has gained extensive international Product Marketing, Virtual PBX System, Market Research, Sales Enablement and Business development experience across SaaS, Telecommunications, Video Conferencing and Technology sectors within companies such as Sony, Cisco, Cogeco Peer 1 and Dimension Data/NTT.
Ready to take charge of your dev career?
Join Europe's leading job platform for software developers!