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Cover image for Nine months as a Jr. Web Developer

Nine months as a Jr. Web Developer

gabe profile image Gabe Updated on ・5 min read

It's been an extremely rewarding journey so far in my nine months as a jr. developer. I started off in the Summer of 2018 working as a Jr. Front-End contractor for Third & Grove, a web agency that specializes in Drupal located here in Boston. After working there for a few months I moved on to a permanent position as a Creative Technologist at Amp Agency. In my short time as a jr developer, I've been very fortunate to have had great leaders & teachers that I could reach out to for help, without them I would not be where I am today. So with that, I'll be going through some lessons I've learned throughout these nine months.

Third & Grove.

At T&G right off the bat, I really learned how an agency functioned. My days were simple - I arrived at 8:30 AM, opened up JIRA, and booted up my vagrant boxes so I could start tackling tickets (often with the help of other more senior developers). It was fantastic. T&G was extremely aggressive about the quality of the code they engineered. They had beautifully written and strict, best-practices documentation that was closely followed by every single engineer. This was also frightening. As a brand new Jr. Dev, I, at times felt slow or even dumb because I couldn't provide them quality code 24/7. JavaScript and CSS tended to give me the biggest headaches - there were issues or tickets I would need to solve that at first, seemed like it should have been an easy task but as I would later learn, they were very actually pretty tricky. Whenever I encountered problems like these, I would buckle down and try to solve them myself so that I could feel like a 'real developer'. This was my first big mistake. By doing this, I sometimes ran over-allocated project time and caused headaches for the project managers, one of my managers would later confess this to me in my exit interview. She told me that in the future when I get stuck again - don't wait to reach out for help, do it ASAP! I personally didn't like reaching out to other developers "all the time" because it felt like I was bothering them. It felt like they were babysitting me. She assured me that there was nothing wrong with asking other developers for help, in fact, that's what many of them were there for - to help out us Jr devs. So always be willing to reach out for help.

Another great tip I got was from our Director of Engineering, and that was to not let imposter syndrome grip you. I had never heard of the term 'Imposter Syndrome' but after he explained it, it perfectly described how I felt during my summer as a jr. For those that may not know

'Imposter syndrome is a psychological pattern in which an individual doubts their accomplishments and has a persistent internalized fear of being exposed as a fraud'.
Apparently, this is a common phenomenon amongst all developers, from juniors to seniors. During my exit interview he told me he could tell I was at the start of a great career in web development and that as long as I chose to stick with it and kept the same level of passion I was showing them all summer, I would do well. He later went on to post an amazing recommendation on my LinkedIn which, to be completely honest, is maybe the most beautiful piece of literature anyone has ever written about me.

T&G made me feel like a champ after three months of being there. By the time I was done with T&G, I had set up close to 50 local WordPress/Drupal installations on my machine, masted source control via the CLI, and was comfortable using more advanced PHP/HTML/CSS such as TWIG and SCSS. All combined with some solid advice from my peers, which paved the way for the next step in my career, AMP Agency.

AMP Agency

When I arrived at AMP Agency in September, I was excited to take on whatever tasks or projects I would soon be on, but also very nervous. I now had three months of agency experience under my belt and was a little more prepared to deal with agency life. However, unlike T&G, AMP was not a web agency, but rather a full marketing agency with a web team in Boston, and a dedicated web development branch in LA. So what's the difference? From my experience, at Third & Grove, I was just maintaining, theming and overall improving the client sites we were responsible for. At AMP Agency, I felt like more of a 'digital artist' than a 'software engineer'. Yes, technically both positions are considered to be jr. software engineer roles, but at AMP I'm wasn't just improving client sites, I was creating unique digital web experiences for our clients. I would go on to build-out HTML5 OLA banners, micro-sites, UX wire-frames, custom Gutenberg blocks, and even occasionally, leave my developer chair to star in our agency's holiday card! From day one at AMP, I got to constantly experiment with new technologies as I learned about them. It's a really cool experience to find an awesome framework or creative idea on your own time, then turn around and use it for your next client project.

So what have I learned?

Way too much to list out. I'm serious - at AMP I have worn so many hats and have dived headfirst into so many different projects that I thought to myself "I would need to write out a book if I were to go through every little thing I've learned". So my supervisor recommended that I do just that, write out my thoughts. He recommended I start my own blog or even post here to Dev.to, and just catalog my thoughts and experiences throughout my journey as a jr dev. So I did! Using Grav, the flat-file CMS, I set up a blog on my server and began documenting cool finds. More recently, I began porting over my posts to Dev.to in hopes other developers provide feedback or just find something cool like I did. As I progress through my career and work on improving my development skills, it is my hope that my posts will reflect these improvements. My two goals for my blog are to keep track of my developer journey and to inspire others about the wonderful world of web development the same way I've been inspired.

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Gabe

@gabe

House-Plant fanatic, Javascript connoisseur, & CSS artisan.

Discussion

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This is a great thing to read, thanks for sharing!

 
 

As a student, six months in to an eighteen month web/app dev course, reading this makes me excited but also freaked out about actually working in the industry. Great post, though!

 

I feel like no matter who you are and your position, you'll always be nervous to start a new job so don't be discouraged! It is a rollercoaster of emotions when you start out but it really is rewarding career in my opinion!