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JennyJudova (they/them)
JennyJudova (they/them)

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What I learnt in my first year as a junior developer

In autumn 2019 I went through a Bootcamp, in winter I started job hunting, and in the last week of February 2020 just two weeks before the UK went into lockdown I started my first job as a front end engineer. Here is a mixture of lessons learnt and things that happened that are likely to happen to other junior devs.
my work mac in a green case with stickers on it

1 - you will have to learn Git

Bootcamps and I am guessing CS degrees don't really cover Git.

I realised that my git knowledge is inadequate on day one after staring at a colleague asking 'Cherry what..?'

The weekend after my first week was spent in git tutorials and researching GUI.

My favourite resource was this game

2 - you will have to unlearn and relearn

No matter how new or how long you've been in an industry, you already picked up some weird habits. Mine was using add all in Git. It took a really bad rebase to unlearn it.

3 - you will give the weirdest explanations to the question 'what do you do?'

Mine vary from 'I create buttons' to 'I am the translator between the machine and the human'.

4 - you will learn a new framework or language

No matter how many or how few languages or frameworks you know, you will definitely have to learn more.

Me coding along to an Ember js tutorial

5 - open source

Open source is something I always wanted to do. I firmly believe in giving back to the community. Also, I have no imagination when it comes to project ideas so helping communities I care about create tools they will actually use is an excellent use of my time and skill.

Open source, I found is surprisingly hard to get into. There are loads of projects, but the information about them is scattered and really hard to find.

Here I don't really have advice just a suggestion - if you can do it, do it. And if you run an open-source project and need help - get in touch.

6 - "It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a developer in possession of friends, must be in want to create a website for them."

Two of my friends approached me for 'advice' in late spring. I gave the sensible grown-up advice - use Squarespace. They came back with a counteroffer - of me having complete freedom in creating a brutalist website (my weakness) for their non for profit Climate Art pro bono. They had a strong case why they needed a developer (... I know I was suckered in ...)

screenshot of Climate Art Website with a message in the developer console that reads "Welcome to Climate Art's website created by Jenny Judova"

7 - You will have more control of your product than you expected

I am part of a big team. Any project I work on has a product manager, a programme manager, a UX researcher, a UX designer, and even a UX writer.

I have no control of the text that is displayed on a button that I create. However, even within a large team, I am still surprised how much say and control I have in every feature I work on.

8 - less is more

In a Bootcamp, you will write a hundred lines of code in one day. At work, it's more like a hundred in a month.

9 - communication

No matter what is your chosen career or industry, communication is essential.

Engineering is no different, arguably, communication is even more critical as you have to understand what senior engineers are telling you, and to be able to explain what you are doing to non-engineers on your team.

10 - being brave enough to admit that you don't understand something

No one enjoys looking dumb or feeling dumb.

When someone is explaining something, the knee jerk reaction is to nod along. I am still learning to break that habit and to speak out when I do not understand something.

11 - ask for help

It's great to try and figure things out on your own, but at one point you have to be able to ask for help.

And that's a list that sums up my first year. Onwards and upwards let's bring on year 2.

Top comments (2)

sjones6 profile image
Spencer Jones

Congrats on your first year! Great lessons in here.

michalbryxi profile image
Michal Bryxí