Tips for a Junior Dev

I have read a couple articles with advice for Junior Developers so I decided to write a few myself to share and reflect on my journey in that role. Working as a Junior Developer can be challenging. You might often find times that you are overloaded with information to soak up or unable to finish a task/project. I am a Junior Developer and I have gone through a couple challenges and thought I would share some tips on how to get through those challenges.

1. Staying positive Your mental approach to your work is very important.

Having a positive mindset when solving a task can increase your chances of solving it. I find that if I tell myself I can solve a task, often times, I end up doing so. And when I am not too positive, I find that I take longer to get the task done. There may be a couple of things that might disrupt that kind of positive energy. It might be things in your life that you are going through or the atmosphere at work or even the weather. One thing I know definitely affects my positive energy is social media. One small message from someone or a post can take up 5-10 mins of my time after which I have to try again to focus on the task I was working on. A good solution for this is to put your phone on mute or somewhere far away whilst you are working so that you do not get distracted. Sounds simple but often times its hard to stay more than 30 minutes without looking at your phone. So try as much possible to be off your phone to keep those positive vibes. Another way I try build some positive energy is to listen to my favorite music playlist right before starting my task or during. Once I listen to a couple good jams, I feel more motivated and my brain just clears up. I also try and make sure I listen to the same playlist every time I start working on a task. I believe keeping this routine tells my brain that it is time to get things done.

2. Being eager to learn Working as a Junior Dev, you will be introduced to a lot of new languages, frameworks, concepts, code-bases that your company uses and it might be a lot to assimilate.

First thing would be to itemize all the things you are not comfortable with and create a schedule of learning them. The developers in your company or even outside can direct you on getting familiar with everything and can direct you on the right path. Do not be afraid to ask when there is something you do not understand. You might have a lot of questions but asking does not mean that you are less qualified for the job. Developers are some of the most helpful and supportive professionals I know. Being a second-career dev, I am often surprised at the sheer number of developer meetups, forums, groups where people are asking questions and others are ready to provide answers( big ups to StackOverflow!). Most developers are always willing to help because we have gone through similar challenges so feel free to raise a question when you get stuck.

3. Knowing when to take a time-out

It is always good to take a break once in a while especially when you get stuck on something, be it a task, understanding a concept or trying to solve that pesky bug. When I get stuck, I try to get some water and walk a little. This helps me to rethink my approach to a task and also give my brain some time to rest. Often times it is during the short walks that I find the solution to the problem I was having. Learning when to give yourself a time-out can help keep your stamina up so keep practicing this.

4. Having mentors I would recommend having mentors to guide you on your learning journey.

This could be senior developer at your company, someone within your community or someone you look up to. I know its very hard to find mentors but keep trying.

5. Remembering why you chose this career path

Sometimes you might be in a really tough position in your career that you feel that maybe it was not meant for you or maybe you should try follow a different path. When you start feeling like that just rethink why you decided to choose software development. Look back at the things you have built and think of how working on those projects or tasks made you feel.

6. Being part of a community

I have grown a lot in my career by being part of a developer community. To be honest, seeing the activities in these communities is what made be decide to switch careers back in 2017. I am very grateful to the Developer Circle's Lusaka group for showing me that software development is actually a fun and interesting field and that you can get a very good salary from it. Attending community events, you get to learn a lot about what is trending in your field, meet other developers like yourself, who can encourage you and of course, find companies or people looking to hire developers. So make sure you are in at least one community. And as you grow in that community try to give feedback/support to other developers.

7. This one is key... DON'T CALL YOURSELF A JUNIOR DEVELOPER!!!

You may have just started learning software development and are looking to get a job or you are already working as a Junior Developer at a company but in the long run, you want to have a title such as, Intermediate Developer or Senior Developer right? Well, calling yourself a Junior Developer might get you that entry-level job but you want to grow out of that role and the best place to start is to stop keeping that title. When you start thinking of yourself in a higher position, you will start growing and gaining the right skills required. So shave the "Junior" off and start earning the next higher role. I hope you enjoyed these few tips and I would like to here yours!

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