I graduated from a Software Engineering bootcamp (Flatiron School) a year ago after deciding to take the leap of a career change from Digital Marketing / E-Commerce. After 6 months of searching for my first developer job, countless applications, rounds of interviews and brain busting code challenges - oh, and waves of imposter syndrome - I finally landed a job as a Web Developer for a digital agency here in Toronto. Fast forward 3 months these are my main takeaways:
What are you looking for? What's important to you? Is it the kind of product you're working on, the company culture, the mentorship or learning aspect within the job. Make sure the role (and most importantly, the company) isn't just a place you can sell yourself as a good fit for them, they need to be a good fit for you too. You'll end up spending a lot of your time at work - it's got to be a place that works for you!
As a newbie - It's intimidating to ask for help. We never want to look like we don't know what we're doing, but at the same time, not knowing is part of the process to learn. So I believe it's important to take a stab at things you've never tried. Work with technologies you haven't learned. Don't feel stupid for not understanding how to do something you've never done, but don't let that same thing scare you from diving in. At the same time, know when you've hit your limit and ask for help sooner than later. I like to give myself around 30 mins or so to see some progress, if I am a step closer within 30 mins I'll add more time. But if I haven't made any progress I'll ask a senior developer for help. Usually (in my experience at least) they've been great with answering questions and making sure I understand.
Connect with someone(s) who can be your go-to when you need help. Maybe they become your work mentor, or just someone you've grown to feel safe and comfortable with when asking for help. I was lucky to have connected with a couple developers at my first job who did exactly this.
One thing I knew while in bootcamp was that I leaned more towards front end development. Although I did learn front and backend, and in my first developer job I was working with db's, I knew that wasn't what I really wanted to do. It's important to recognize your change and growth, take a step back and see how you've evolved and re-evaluate your situation and whether or not it continues to meet your needs on all levels. If you've learned you enjoy something, what can you do to be involved with that more? Or vice versa. Your happiness is important for your well-being so it's important to do little check-ins with yourself as needed. Doing this check-in with myself is how I've learned that a) Front End Development is where my interest truly is, b) My current work environment didn't offer me the kind of opportunity I needed for career growth. I had to make a change!
With all this being said, I'm sure there are tons more takeaways others can share of their first dev job experience, but these were the top of the list for me. So you may be wondering, what now? Well - I've actually recently accepted a job offer for my second dev role! 🎉🍾 I'll be joining a marketing automation consultancy (also in Toronto) as a Front End Developer / Art Director next week! And as I continue through this journey, as my career grows, as I learn more about myself and where I want to go - I'll continue to visit these takeaways (and more!) to ensure that where I am is aligned with who I am and where I aim to go (and grow). So I guess you can say that is my one main key takeaway:
As you grow in your career or with anything in life I think it's important to take a timeout to re-evaluate where you are and if you still feel that you are fulfilling your purpose and needs. We're constantly growing and changing, and what has worked for us a year ago may not be what works for us today. This is something I practice with different areas in my life as part of my "mental health check" routine. Money is great, a job title is great, but does it bring you happiness? Your happiness is what should be valued the most.