This is part 3 of the ultimate junior web developer survival guide, a series of multiple posts where I document and share some of my most valuable experiences, advice, learnings, lessons, answers to questions my past self had, mistakes I made (so that you don’t have to make them), and much more in an attempt to simplify and improve your life as a junior developer as much as I can.
This guide will touch upon topics that they don’t teach you in tutorials; I will be talking about non-technical matters that you learn on the job. The articles will be relatively short and concise so you spend less time reading and more time executing. 🙌🏻
As junior developers, the pressure (either from ourselves or from others) to perform a task well can be quite high. However, keep in mind you don’t always need to aim for perfection. Perfection can be time-consuming. In order to truly learn the craft, you are going to have to make a lot of mistakes. And the faster you make them, the better. At times it means asking for help sooner than you’d like. At times it’s better to make the code work first, and to not think about it being all clean and perfect yet.
Making mistakes is something that all developers at all levels do -- even the most experienced developers and engineers. While I know the imposter syndrome can really kick in here, don’t worry about judgement from your colleagues and don’t view mistakes as failures. It’s a beautiful mix of trial and error and it’s by far the fastest way to learn!
Everytime you learn something new or pick up a new concept, summarize your learnings in your own words. Similarly, if you receive help on a tricky problem from a colleague, recap why your code was initially not working and repeat the solution to your colleague to confirm your understanding. Grasping new knowledge in your own words will also help you retain it better!
One example of how I like to apply this is when a team member creates a PR and I don’t really know what’s going on, I ask them to pair review it together and to get an explanation of what changes we’re making. Throughout the explanation or at the end, I then summarize and recap what I was told to really make sure I understand things correctly. There is no need to always break down every single implementation detail; sometimes it's helpful to simply be able to see the bigger picture.
Surrounding yourself with like-minded individuals and meeting fellow developers is a great energizer (especially if not many of your friends and acquaintances are developers!). It’s a wonderful opportunity to meet people with all kinds of experience levels, fellow junior developers and senior developers who can help you out alike (or who could receive help from you!). Even if the meetup themes or topics do not match your skill set, show up anyway because these new topics can still turn out to be very interesting (and may even lead to some new side projects).
Not every city has an abundance of meetups, so take advantage of it if your city offers this luxury. Nervous to go or are you an introvert? Missing a +1? Don’t worry, as there are tons of people attending these events solo without knowing anyone else. In fact, I realised that I end up meeting the most people when I go alone instead of with a friend or colleague!
As for conferences, keep in mind that tickets can be rather expensive, so I recommend checking with your employer if there is perhaps any conference budget available for you to use so you can expand your knowledge!
Thanks for reading and make sure to also check out the other parts if you haven't done so already. 😉 Happy coding!