My current position as a junior software engineer at the firm I am working for was recently declared as potentially redundant given the changes in the market with regards to the declining demand for junior engineers. This got me thinking on ways I could grow and get myself out of the junior engineer category.
As a junior software engineer, there are several things you can do to give yourself the best possible chance to get hired in the current competitive landscape.
One way is to hone your self-learning techniques to make sure you can stay on top of the changing industry, and stay as attractive as possible to potential employers. This will better enable you to maintain a high-quality portfolio of work and side-projects to give companies a better idea of what your strengths are as a developer. Continuing to work on your skills is extremely important: don’t fall for the trap that after receiving your degree or certificate that you are ‘done’ with learning. In software development, and especially with web technologies, your skills will stagnate without regular training and practice.
You should also focus on the fundamentals to ensure that your skill set stays flexible and marketable for the long-term, and is not greatly affected by the short-term trends in technology. Having a good understanding of the fundamentals will also allow you to pick up new, trendy technology relatively quickly, because you will have an understanding of what the problem being solved is, and an appreciation for tools that solve it well.
Finally, don’t be a junior. The best way to increase your chances of getting a job is to have enough experience and projects under your belt that employers will recognize you as skilled and valuable. This can be tough, especially if you need to be hired soon after finishing your education. One way to accumulate practical experience, even as a junior, is to offer freelance services. Doing this will widen your understanding of the technologies used in the real world, as well as grow your people and communication skills.