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Tips for a Junior Developer by a Junior Developer

Carlijn has been part of the Elements team in Almere since last October. She is 27 years old and has been working as a Junior Front-end developer for a year now. In this blog she will tell you about her experiences in the first few months of her developer career.

Omg I got the job

When I got the offer, I almost couldn’t believe it. Elements was looking for someone experienced and told me they needed to hire a Senior Developer. Anyway, they still decided to get on with the procedure and after three interviews and a technical test, it happened… I got the offer! Best offer I’ve ever read, and with my background in HR, I’ve seen a lot of them. The document started with positive feedback the Elements employees I had spoken to gave about me, and how excited they were to get me on the team. It made me feel amazing!  

Of course, I accepted the offer and started getting e-mails about onboarding and questions such as which computer I wanted to use. Things were getting very real and some doubt about myself started to creep in: “What if I can’t do what they think I can do” and  “They made me feel amazing, maybe they think too highly of me”. All the ‘what if’s’ came crashing down on me. 

Finally, my first day began. I got my laptop and started setting it up. OF COURSE, I forgot the password I came up with (yes.. myself) just minutes before, which meant I had to do it all over again. This didn’t benefit my confidence and my thoughts about what the team would be thinking of me. Also, I got my first project on this day. That made me feel trusted and happy, but obviously my worries about my abilities were there more than ever. I don’t think I am the only one who will be in this position at the beginning of their career, so I made a list with a few tips, and I will tell you my experiences:

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1. Don’t forget: it’s a learning process

As a Developer at the start of my career, a lot of things were overwhelming, especially when working with a team made up of experienced Developers. For example, while I was reading all the documentation. Some of my colleagues got the explanation immediately just by scanning over it. However, I did not. I could read it a hundred times and still wouldn’t  get it. Fortunately, my team told me that everyone struggled with this in the beginning of their career. They gave me the advice to just focus on the learning part, like learning to ride a bicycle as a kid. We learn by making mistakes, asking for help and getting feedback.


2. Take your time to focus

It’s easy to get sucked into all the cool new technologies, frameworks, and libraries out there and wanting to learn and to understand it all. I was (still am) very enthusiastic and I wanted to start working with and learning it all at the same time. This did not work. Focus on understanding one thing at a time and you will get it all fast enough. Sometimes things can also take longer than you thought in the beginning. The first project I got assigned to was estimated to take about three weeks. We ended up spending eight… Don’t feel guilty when projects you’re working on take more time than expected. With time and experience you will be able to estimate and plan your work much better.

 3. Don’t think: “I’ll clean this up later”

Nope, you won’t. It is better to spend more time on a feature than to write it in the messiest way possible and tell yourself you will clean it up later. Thinking you’ll do it another time leads also to inconsistent codes, which is annoying for yourself to read and especially for your colleagues! Besides, it will end up taking a lot more time than it could have if you hadn’t started out so messy. So, try to develop a way of working for yourself. This can be hard, like I experienced as well, but it will work. 

4. Don’t compare yourself to others

Often, I found myself questioning my abilities. Thoughts like: “It has already been a year; did I learn enough or am I too slow?” crossed my mind sometimes. It is important to remind yourself that everyone must start somewhere and not everyone’s journey is the same. Having to deal with struggles is normal. Try to learn from new experiences and look at what you have accomplished rather than what you think you should know or should have been able to do. Someone told me: “Comparison is a thief of joy”, and normally I’m not a person who believes in quotes, but in this one I can find myself. When you have patience and trust in your OWN skills, you can and will achieve your goals. 

5. Speak up and ask for help 

Like I said before, don’t necessarily think your more experienced colleague has the perfect code or that the medior/senior is always right. If you feel like something can be done or can be communicated in a better way, do not feel scared to open your mouth. If you’re in the right environment, people WILL listen to you. Don’t forget that having good discussions is also a way of learning. Ask others how they see the situation and learn from their point of view. If you do not understand something, just ask for extra explanation. People do not mind explaining subjects five times over again. They want you to learn and develop yourself as well as you do. 

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Mentioning all these tips, it reminded me of how much I have learned myself this year. I had challenges and made mistakes. Now at Elements, I feel happy because of the company and the team; how they help and support me. My colleagues don’t just see me as a junior, but also as a real addition to the team and I can’t wait to see what the future will bring. 

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Dec 22, 2021

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