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My First Year as a "Real Dev"

About 360-some days ago, I started my first front end engineer role. It has been a year packed with a bunch of learning, challenges, and a crazy amount of personal and professional growth.

While I will never say, "Coding is for everyone", I can truthfully say that I believe for anyone looking to enter a career with stability and the ability to make an impact on a regular basis, development just might be it.

I still consciously make sure to not downplay the effort and self-motivation needed to be a self-directed learner—or even to go to a boot camp or get a college degree—but I don’t think things like not loving math or never having coded before should be a reason not to consider a career in technology. Below I will break down some of my main findings of the past year.

You’re a developer whether you’re employed or not

I refuse to accept any notions that you aren’t a developer if you aren’t being paid for it. You don’t have to be an expert to be one, either. Each of these mindsets creates barriers to entry in a field that needs a huge influx of talent.

The perspective a non-senior developer has is essential to any open source team or workplace. If documentation doesn’t make sense to just about anyone, then it might as well be a poorly written diary entry.

The impact you can make from the beginning is profound. Technology should make life easier, and it’s time for the entire industry* to stop pretending coding is inaccessible to people who can’t spend upwards of four years in a classroom learning about algorithmic theory when so much of my day-to-day is hands-on learning and implementation.

Some of the best developer skills aren’t technical

I’ve read a lot of great blog posts over the last year on how some of the best skills you can have as a developer, really aren’t technical at all.

Empathy, for example, is without a doubt a trait that can be learned just by putting your end users' needs in mind when designing and coding applications. But this also extends to people you interact with on a regular basis while discussing coding, the tech industry, and your day-to-day job in general.

Communication skills such as active listening, writing, as well being able to teach through a variety of formats (videos, blog posts, tweets) are important to making sure the tech industry is more welcoming to all people of different backgrounds.

Being a well-rounded person with an open mind and willingness to elevate others, in my opinion, is far more valuable than being super talented at writing complex code in low-level programming languages.

Breaks are healthy

I’m definitely one of the people who find purpose in being perpetually busy. One thing I’ve come to learn and love about my journey within the past year is that taking a break—whether it’s from getting the green little squares on GitHub, or even from taking a rest week from physical activity— breaks are one of the best ways to improve your life. Your mind and body need meaningful rest.

It’s easy to get caught up in the day-to-day grind of our capitalistic society. I’d encourage everyone to rebel from time to time and catch up on ‘you time’. You’ll come away with some previously hidden self truths, and maybe even a renewed passion for what you do!

The Rest Is Still Unwritten

Nastha Bedingfield had something right within those iconic lyrics. I can’t even fathom what this field is going to be like in five years time. The only certainty is change and navigating that change means having an openness to being proven wrong and adapting accordingly. I’m looking forward to the change ahead and all the new JavaScript frameworks that’ll break my projects for years to come.

*Some progress is being made in regard to four-year CS degrees not being a main qualification at top programming companies.

Top comments (4)

kerwincormier profile image

As a 20-year career changer and second-week bootcamp student, I like this quote the best, "The only certainty is change and navigating that change means having an openness to being proven wrong and adapting accordingly." I'm coming from a career I had so down I could do with my eyes closed. Now I'm learning something I'm genuinely interested in but it feels like the first jump off the high-dive. It's important to remember that mistakes will be made, you're not going to be perfect, Google is your friend, and asking questions is not only okay but highly supported.

johannarlee profile image

<3 <3 <3

johannarlee profile image
johanna • Edited

Yup, as mentioned it takes a certain level of certain level of self motivation to persevere, but it's much better being told "you can do it" as opposed to conventional myths surrounding what makes a good developer.

I've seen a lot of people from underrepresented areas change their life for the better (myself included) with coding, so it's good to share these stories to help change the narrative. :)

chintukarthi profile image
Karthikeyan Dhanapal

"You don’t have to be an expert to be one, either"

Loved it 😇