Katie Raby

Top Tips for Junior Developers Starting Their First Role


tags: careerbeginners

You’ve just landed your first Junior Developer role. Congratulations! 🏆

What now? How do you prepare for your first week? What are some things you should think about when you start? Here are some great tips for developers starting out in their first role (and beyond!).

  1. ASK QUESTIONS. As a junior developer you can never ask too many questions! Your colleagues and workplace should be more than okay with answering all your questions — this is your chance to learn as much as you possibly can.

  2. WRITE DOWN YOUR QUESTIONS. You don’t want to forget questions as they arise, and someone may not always be available to answer them for you, so it can be a good idea to write down your questions and save them for an appropriate time. On top of this, it’s good to write down your questions so that you can also write down the answer, and refer back to it when you need to.

  3. BE HONEST ABOUT WHAT YOU DO AND DON’T KNOW. Being honest about your experience is never going to work against you. It shows that you understand your areas for improvement and have something to work on, and on the flip side, it’s your time to shine if you know there are certain things you are better at.

  4. DON’T BE AFRAID TO OFFER OPINIONS AND IDEAS. No matter your level of experience, your opinions and ideas are really valuable.

  5. TAKE NOTES. Any notes which you may find useful, notes about the technology you’re using, notes about the team, notes about any research you’ve done, coding snippets to remember for the future!

  6. GET A NOTEBOOK FOR ‘BUGS’. Each time you come across a bug, make a note of what you found, how you found it, and how you went about fixing it, and how you fixed it. You can then have a collection of error messages and bugs which are able to refer back to, each time you come across something and don’t remember how you solved it the first time.

  7. GET A NOTEBOOK FOR DAILY ACHIEVEMENTS. Every day, starting from day one, make notes of your achievements each working day. This is great for those days you may be feeling low and need reminding of all the things you have achieved in your career so far, or when you just want to look back at how amazing you are, and also great to keep a record when it comes time for a promotion! You have a daily record of your achievements to hand.

  8. WHEN YOU GET STUCK, DON’T SPEND TOO LONG BEFORE YOU ASK FOR HELP. Try to figure out the solution on your own first, but don’t let yourself spend two days trying to solve something which you could have solved in ten minutes with a little help! There will be a learning curve at first, but don’t let yourself get bogged down.

  9. PUSH YOURSELF OUT OF YOUR COMFORT ZONE WHENEVER YOU GET A CHANCE. Try new things, and push the boundaries of your comfort zone, whenever you get the opportunity. Take the reins and lead your daily stand-up, or present a new technology idea to your CTO.

  10. BE PATIENT WITH YOURSELF. A Junior Developer or not, you are starting at a new company with new processes and a whole new codebase to get yourself acquainted with! Give yourself the time and patience you need to get to grips the life-changing transition you have just made into your new job, and understand that there are always things to learn at every level of your career.

  11. UNDERSTAND THAT YOU WILL NEVER KNOW EVERYTHING. Don’t feel deflated when you realise that you don’t know everything there is to know at work. No matter the skills you came in with, the possibilities and learning potential of programming is infinite — you will never know all the things, and neither will anyone in your company, and that is completely okay. Use this as something to drive you and excite you, that you have chosen a career in which you will be constantly learning and improving!

  12. TREAT EVERY MOMENT AS A LEARNING OPPORTUNITY. Even if there comes a problem you already know how to solve, there could be a new way of looking at the problem that you hadn’t already thought about, or new ways to approach it, and new things to discover.

  13. IT’S OKAY TO STEP AWAY FROM A PROBLEM AND COME BACK TO IT. Sometimes you just need to step away and come back to a problem later. Get yourself a hot drink and come back after a break. Looking at it with fresh eyes again could help you solve it, and if not, it’s okay to get help on the problem.

  14. FIND A MENTOR. Whether this be someone in or out of work, having a mentor who you can talk to about your coding experience, career progression, and general wellbeing can be invaluable.

  15. FAMILIARISE YOURSELF WITH RELEVANT DOCUMENTATION. Find out what technologies your team uses, and look into the relevant documentation associated to get a feel for things before diving in. You may also find that your team will have their own internal documentation, documenting things such as how to use their API or tools. Familiarise yourself with this on your first few days, so you know where to go when you need information.

  16. FIND OUT ABOUT THE BIGGER PICTURE. You’re working on one piece, or multiple pieces, of the wider puzzle. Find out how all the puzzle pieces fit together in the bigger picture of the product you’re working on. Find out about the industry you’re working in, and how the product you’re making fits into that industry picture.

  17. DON’T FALL INTO THE TRAP OF WORKING ALL THE HOURS UNDER THE SUN. You’re new to a job, you’re excited, and you want to prove yourself. You are tempted to continually work after hours, but please resist this temptation — it is a recipe for burnout. You will be learning a lot every day at work, and your brain needs time away and rest to process the things you’ve learnt throughout the day. Take rest when you need it, and arrive fresh for the next day to learn a whole lot more!

  18. NEVER FORGET ABOUT THE END USER. Always keep in mind WHO you are developing for, and WHO will be using your product, this will help to guide your development and ensure you are doing and noticing things with the end user in mind.

  19. SPEND TIME REALLY UNDERSTANDING WHAT YOU ARE DEVELOPING. You can quite easily feel like you want to dive headfirst into writing code as quickly as possible — but without really understanding the codebase and the product can be detrimental to you in the long-run, and can leave technical debt for the team. Ensure you spend time understanding what you’re developing and how things fit together, to be able to make more informed decisions about your code.

  20. ENJOY YOURSELF. Congratulations for reaching this amazing goal and securing your first role as a Junior Developer. You have worked so hard and you totally deserve it. Relish the feeling of landing an awesome job, and enjoy yourself!

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