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Jerome Hardaway for Vets Who Code

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The Top 5 Things You Need to Know to Be Successful as a Junior Developer

With countless open positions and a booming tech industry, there’s never been a better time to be a web developer. However, being successful in your first job requires far more than JavaScript knowledge — you’ll also need to practice and strengthen a variety of nontechnical skills.

Whether you’ve just landed your first position as a junior developer or you’re currently on the job hunt, breaking into the field can be more than a little intimidating. Here’s a list of five insights we’ve compiled to make your life a little easier as a junior JavaScript developer.

1) Ask for Help

The longer you work as a developer, the more you’ll realize how little you really know. Never be afraid to look up a term or concept you’re not familiar with, and never be afraid to ask your more senior co-workers for assistance. Getting answers to your questions is to everyone’s benefit because it makes you a better employee.

Beyond asking questions, there are several ways you can receive help as a junior developer. Pair programming with more experienced developers is an excellent way to learn the ropes at an organization and to find out about useful tools and techniques. You can also ask your colleagues to do a code review of your work in order to receive some constructive criticism.

2) Show Initiative

Your employer will hire and train you for a given role, which may not correspond exactly with what you’ve learned so far. As a junior developer, you should accept that you may not always be able to work on your projects of choice.

However, this doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t continue to look out for your own interests. You’ll likely have many different employers over the course of your career, each one requiring a distinct skill set. If you’re not currently in your ideal position, work on yourself by learning talents and technologies for the job you want. A great way to do this is by starting side projects that you can push to production and showcase on your resume.

3) Keep Learning

Although you may have been hired as a junior developer, learning new concepts will give you a better chance of rising up the ranks. There’s always another skill to grasp that will benefit you in your work, from how to write better code to how to communicate your ideas effectively.

Online, you’ll find a wealth of resources, articles and videos that can help you learn advanced JavaScript techniques and libraries. You can even watch screencasts on websites like Twitch that show people writing code in real time. Contributing to open source software projects is another great way to keep your skills sharp and help out the programming community.

4) Find a Mentor

Even when you’re working as part of a team, being a junior developer can be a bewildering and sometimes isolating experience. To counteract these problems, find a good technical mentor who can provide advice about your work and help guide you along your career trajectory.

Mentors can come in many forms, from both inside and outside your organization. If it’s one of your co-workers or connections, the relationship often develops organically as you get to know each other better. You can also find external mentors at programming conferences and meetings, where they can give advice on topics such as job interviews and the state of the industry.

5) Don’t Give Up

Patience and determination are two of the successful web developer’s greatest virtues. Waiting for tests to complete, learning a new framework, and fixing a nasty bug all require a serious amount of tenacity and a high tolerance for frustration.

However, it’s important to realize that you’ll get better just by showing up every day. Whether it’s learning to ride a bike or learning to code, nothing worthwhile can be achieved without a lot of sweat and hard work — so be prepared to take chances, make mistakes and stick to it.

Discussion (4)

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fuzzysteve profile image
Steve Anderson / Steve Ronuken

Asking for help, when you need it, is very very important.

Mostly because if you insist on working everything out, you'll likely get bad practices, and waste time. Yes, you'll use up someone senior's time. But that's fine. It'll keep you productive, and eventually, you'll stop needing to ask.

Just remember what you're told. Having to ask more than once isn't good. (It's not actively bad. As long as you don't keep asking. Learn when you get help)

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egilhuber profile image
erica (she/her)

It's also important to know how to ask for help.

The first step is of course, asking the question. However, sometimes the answer doesn't sink in right away. There are now two options:

  • Go back to your desk and attempt to untangle the new and overwhelming information, causing more confusion and frustration

OR

  • In that same 'help session' KEEP ASKING. When you ask a question and after answering, the senior asks "got it?" it is okay to say no. Keep asking clarification questions. Not only does this show that you were trying to absorb their answer, it also shows that you want to understand the answer.
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kim profile image
Kim

Thanks Jerome!

This is exactly what i needed right now. Sitting here, taking chances, making mistakes but sticking to it!

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j3ffjessie profile image
J3ffJessie

That is awesome to see. I’m hoping to get into the field someday and can’t wait. I’m really anxious to put this to use.