Picture by Gelgas Airlangga
So often we only realize how far we’ve come only when things come to an end - it took being shifted to our next career level for me to realize how much had happened in the last years.
In two years of being a Junior Developer, I feel safe to say I’ve learned a lot - of course in terms of technical skills, but also as a person. Some things certainly did not come easy to me, I won’t lie - there was definitely some sweat and tears on the journey. But I made it. And I want to share with you lessons I have learned being a Junior Dev - I’d love to hear what your take away was from your time as a Junior (or whatever the ‘bottom of the food chain’ is called at our workplace) - please let us know in the comments!
You don’t have to know it all.
Despite the perceived pressure you might feel to have all the answers, to solve every problem alone and to stay on top of the latest technology trend - nobody expects you to know it all. Simply because it’s not possible - nobody does. There is way too much information out there and our time is far too precious to care about everything at once. Everybody googles all the time and that is perfectly fine. Stay curious and continue to dare asking questions even though you might feel like the answer is obvious (more often than not, people will be relieved you asked cause they didn’t dare themselves). Learn what you are passionate or curious about, but by no means feel pressured to continue studying because you feel like you have too.
…You will keep learning (probably forever).
Let’s face it: you will never be done learning. For some time I was sure I would be more comfortable calling myself a developer if I just understood that one concept or fixed that one bug confidently. No no, my friend, the journey is the reward - You will most certainly get quicker and tackle more complex problems with confidence, but there will always be something you will just see for the first time. So brace yourself for the long run, it’s a marathon - not a sprint. And it’s likely a good idea to stay humble despite your progress.
You will find your people. Or they will find you.
Especially in the beginning I felt like there was no way I would fit into this community. I felt like other developers must surely smell that I was too different from them. Many of the people I met had been in the industry for ages or had been interested in computers and technology from a young age, loved video games and had a bunch of side projects and were overall very intimidating to me. I don’t mean to play on stereotypes at all, I just felt like I couldn’t join in many conversations and was scared I would have to force myself to be something I’m not to fit in.
If this sounds anything like you, be sure: you don’t. You are great, just the way you are and you will be accepted as such. Maybe not by anybody, but by your crowd. And they will find you - or vice versa. Just stay true to yourself and be open-minded when meeting new people - this community is very accepting.
Human connections over - well - everything.
For some, their job is just a job and they aren’t out to make friends. That’s perfectly fine, it’s just not me. I found that what (to me) mattered most as a Junior Dev was not the technological progress I made but the people I met along the way. Mentors, colleagues, managers, people from other disciplines, who shaped the way I worked, what I learned and how I grew as a person. Especially in odd times working remotely with what felt like little connection to the outside world. It’s great to be focused and productive - but make sure you take time to have a (virtual) coffee with your fellows, check in and talk about something else than code for a couple of minutes.
Your voice matters.
You might feel from time to time that your idea doesn’t matter as a Junior - that your solution might be less worthy than somebody else's or that your question is redundant. It’s not. Your input matters and is highly valuable. And whoever makes you feel otherwise likely didn’t get the memo yet. Often, less experienced people bring in a new perspective, fresh ideas and dare to challenge the status quo. Sure, if decisions need to be made and someone has to take responsibility, it’s great to have very experienced people on the team to take charge for a team - but that doesn’t make your contribution less valuable. Mentors can learn from Mentees, bosses from their employees - knowledge isn’t a one way street. It’s good to listen and learn, but don’t let anyone convince you to stop asking questions and make your voice heard.