Last week was my first week as a junior software engineer, and it was absolutely incredible!
After leaving my last job a year ago and setting a goal for myself to make a career transition to Software Engineering, I'm so proud to have made it to the other side with a truly awesome startup.
Over the course of my first week, I made sure to take some notes of things I noticed during the week that could potentially help other early-career web developers both on the job and in preparation for that first job, so here it goes!
There are going to be things that your team asks you where you might not even know what the question means and that's OK and normal.
It doesn't mean you're not smart or that you don't belong there - it's just an opportunity to learn and to improve your skills.
Your team knows this and being upfront if you don't understand something will also help them explain things and get a deeper knowledge and familiarity with different concepts in the future.
It's all connected. You are not the outlying exception. You belong.
Every single senior developer started out in your shoes.
Understand that they want to help you develop your own skills. They're a major source of good information, so ask lots of questions!
Get out of your own head that you're asking silly questions - just do it and agonize internally about the silliness later on if you need to (but you probably won't need to!)
When working through a difficult process in the beginning, document and take notes. By doing this, you'll have a clear roadmap of where you are, where you're going, and where things might have gone wrong (looking back retrospectively).
I did this while getting myself set up locally, and it also helped my team get a closer look into the convoluted process - what worked, what didn't, and so on.
Having a bias toward action is taking any action in your work and repeating it until told otherwise without the stress or second-guessing.
Assume what you’re doing is correct until explicitly given feedback to correct it.
You always hear that it’s faster (or easier?) to ask for forgiveness than permission; but in this case, I think it’s better to move forward on a hunch than to stay stagnant in puzzlement.
I actually learned this in my last job in customer support when I’d submit half-baked ideas, documents, and pitches to my manager or team. Those half-formed ideas and drafts can be pretty confusing for others to read (kind of like a flurry of thoughts whirring through my brain rather than an organized document that flows!).
It helps you by doing higher-quality work in the first place, and it helps your team and manager by saving time on the back-and-forth of feedback.
Consciously thinking the thought ‘I have too much to do’ or ‘This is overwhelming’ or ‘I’m slowing the team down’ will literally create that reality because you’ll stress yourself out and try to distract yourself from that stress, leading you to not getting a single thing done.
Shift your focus to something like ‘I can work on one thing at a time’ or ‘I can focus on one thing at a time’ and that will help you work your way down your list of to-do's.
There they are - six key takeaways from my first week as a Junior Software Engineer!
If you take just one thing from this article - let it be that you belong and that this is only the start of an amazing journey.
Take everything in stride, ask questions, and marvel at how quickly you get yourself up and running over time.
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