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Tech Tuesday: A Fresh Perspective from a Junior Developer

Transitioning into the Tech Industry as a fresh developer is terrifying.  Prior to starting as a junior developer I had heard all the regular, recited advice you get all the time – work hard, ask questions, and be eager to learn.  While that’s good advice, ultimately it was the five tips below that helped me to navigate my new role.

DOCUMENTATION IS EVERYTHING

More times than not when you are starting a new role as a developer, you will be slammed with an abundant amount of recommended and/or mandatory documentation to read – everything from learning how to run your local server to specific workflow processes you are expected to follow. It may seem overwhelming at first but it’s imperative.

There will most definitely be gaps in your technical knowledge. Reading, research, and writing documentation will become a constant part of your new routine, and if done right, it will not only help you grow as an engineer, but will also be a helpline for the junior developers who join the team after you.

LEARN HOW TO READ CODE

I cannot emphasize this enough.  Reading code may be more important than knowing how to write it.  There are a hundred different ways to solve a single coding problem, and we all know exactly where to look for those answers.  The issue arises when we do not fully understand the problem but are already actively seeking out a solution. Being able to read a program and/or code base will not only help improve the quality, readability, and style of the code you write, but will also help you absorb information on how and why things work. Take your time, diligently look through the deck of mockups, study the flow of the application, deep dive into the repositories, and research anything that may seem alien to you.  Chances are you’ll have to do this time and time again throughout your career as a developer. Your sanity and job security depend on it.

PEER REVIEWS ARE YOUR FRIEND

Majority of junior developers get anxious just thinking about someone assessing the code they just pushed.  Only in the last year or two have I realized how important peer reviews actually are.

Peer reviews are much more than just bug-checks.  A peer review helps to ensure project quality and requirements by enforcing a consistent coding style and standard throughout the project.  The goal: minimize mistakes and their impact when merging new code into a project.  It also opens the door for sharing new knowledge and/or techniques that will ultimately improve your personal code performance. Do your best to take in and soak up every critique that comes your way. It will only make you better and more confident as a developer.

FAIL, FAIL AGAIN, FAIL BETTER

It is simple, really, but it is easy to ignore this when starting a new role and wanting to impress your new lead and team.  Do your best to remember it is okay if you make a mistake. Truth is, errors and mistakes happen. Even experienced developers make them.  The important takeaway should be the lesson learned from the mistake. A lot of times, you will never make that same mistake again and that shows progress.

ATTITUDE MATTERS – A LOT

Software development is tough, and without a doubt, there will be days you feel like you have no idea what is going on and/or are running around like a chicken with its head cut off trying to make a deadline.  It is crucial to keep a positive, persistent mindset.  A big difference between a good and great programmer is attitude.  A great programmer cares about the product’s success, will be willing to go the extra mile to get the job done, doesn’t let their ego get in the way of constructive criticism, seeks collaboration, and will bring their very best to the table every day.

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