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I’m a Junior and… I’m going to start a job as a developer without previous work experience

At Joppy, we consider a junior developer profile to have less than two years of experience, then moving on to a middle profile. In this article, Antonio, backend of the company, gives some advice for all those who are starting to work in the sector.

You’ve been training, for months or even years, and you’ve finally landed a job as a web developer… without any previous work experience. Then comes the nerves and doubts of the first days: I have never used X and Y technologies before and they are complicated to understand. I’m asking a lot of questions and they are going to think I’m not good for this. I don’t know if I’m meeting expectations. I think I’m going too slow. I don’t know how I should communicate with my boss.

According to Stackoverflow, up to 28.43% of the techies on the planet are junior or middle profiles. This figure is growing every year, tech is IN!

To clear up doubts and bring some clarity, in this article I’m going to talk about some questions you should keep in mind when you wonder what it’s like to work as a junior web developer… and don’t try to escape from the code in the attempt.

Learn to spot and avoid harmful environments

The experience you have in your first few jobs can shape the way you perceive your future career.

If you are a junior and you have not worked in other fields, you should be aware that you are at an important and delicate stage of your career. A hint: it is just as important to know what is expected of you… as what is not expected. This will help you compare the constructive from the toxic.

Getting started in constructiveenvironments will make you grow to love your profession. Imagine that your first jobs are in companies where there are people willing to teach you, where you can apply that knowledge, give you the opportunity to make mistakes and learn from your mistakes without recriminating yourself. People from whom you acquire, without realizing it, those soft skills that help you “coexist” with your colleagues and your bosses, to manage conflicts, to accept your successes, to communicate your failures, your suggestions or complaints.

Imagine the opposite, the impact it can have on your quality of life, on your perception of your profession?

How to detect companies that do not suit you? In my experience, run away from those companies that:

  • are looking for astronauts, i.e. people with qualifications and experience out of place for a junior.
  • are looking for juniors with experience in architectures X, Y or Z. Run away from those where once you enter you are left alone, with no support or supervision from someone with more seniority.
  • time is passing and you feel that you have not learned or have not been taught anything and you see that you are still the same as when you came in.
  • where the responsibility for the success of the project falls on you.
  • where your co-workers or your bosses make you feel inferior because you have less experience and/or knowledge.

What is expected of me as an inexperienced web developer job?

What is expected of you is that you are eager to learn. Don’t be afraid of not knowing something

Now that you know what shouldn’t be required of you, it’s good to know why companies will want a profile like yours. Hiring a junior person means hiring a person with a theoretical knowledge base but with little or no professional experience. That translates into having a person with little or no experience in real problems of real dimensions, who will need support and assistance, in short, hiring a junior implies an extra effort. Fortunately for everyone, there are many companies that are clear about this.

To summarize, the path of a junior in a company translates into the following steps:

  1. training in the technological stack used by the company
  2. solving small tasks with the supervision of a more experienced person
  3. understanding the product/business little by little
  4. over time increase your technical knowledge as well as your knowledge of the company’s stack
  5. to become completely autonomous enough to perform tasks without the supervision of someone more senior.

In other words, the more you ask the better. Obviously when you don’t understand something technical the best thing to do is to look for information and if after looking for it you don’t find it or you find it and you don’t understand it, the best thing to do is to ask your supervisor for help. Asking questions in this way is good for you. First, because you will have invested time in looking for information, reading it and understanding it. Secondly and more importantly, when you ask someone else, they will see that you are interested and that you have initiative because you have previously looked for information.

And what about soft skills?

You should never feel alone and you should never “do it alone”. If something is stuck, talk to the person responsible.

Communication is a key quality that you should be improving and growing. It is just as important as the technical aspects. It is part of that set of non-technical knowledge that companies value and that are usually grouped in the so-called soft skills. On a personal level, something I advise you to do is to manage your emotional intelligence, which combined with communication will be key to the perception that others (your colleagues and bosses) have of you.

What do you prefer, being stuck because of your fears and insecurities; or to show that you trust your senior manager to teach you, showing in the process that you have the tools to manage a bump in the road? It’s clear to me.

What should your career goal be?

Prioritize companies where you can grow professionally and personally.

Whatdo you prioritize: money, recognition, self-realization? My goal when I was working as an inexperienced web developer was to find places where I could grow professionally, but also personally. I speak of “companies” in plural, because your evolution will require successive changes. Your profession is not only about growing in technical knowledge, but also about knowing how to communicate with the people around you, that’s why I give so much importance to people’s soft skills and emotional intelligence.

This is very personal, but look at this example.

Imagine finding a great company where you have a good salary, with relatively simple tasks, nice colleagues and a long etcetera of things. On the other hand there is a big BUT, and that is, the job does not make you happy, the work does not contribute anything, the tasks are easy but cumbersome, they do not let you apply any new technology that you propose and you do not think it will ever happen because of the great bureaucracy of the company, you realize how over time you are becoming “outdated” technologically speaking, etc..

At that point you will have lost much of your motivation and you will have become a gray employee. My advice is that if you are even the slightest bit restless, don’t end up in an elephant’s graveyard.

The study has only just begun

If you do not like to learn and be in continuous training you have not chosen well.

This is about programming, technologies, internet, etc. and there is nothing more volatile than that. If you don’t like to learn new things and be in continuous training, I have bad news for you: you have not chosen well.

People who work with JavaScript have coined the term JavaScript fatigue, to refer to the overwhelming amount and speed of frameworks, libraries and tools that arise continuously and that, in many occasions, do not provide anything revolutionary and simply serve to do the same job in a slightly better or different way.

Speaking of JavaScript… do you know how are the salaries in different locations for profiles that master this language?

Don’t worry, you don’t need to know everything, that’s impossible. Little by little you will specialize in a specific branch, in a specific technology, etc. That is where it will be important for you to update your technical knowledge and gradually become a senior programmer.

My colleague Jose shares some skills to work on if you are a fullstack. Take a look.

Conclusion: work as a web developer with no experience… but with perspective.

Companies value you, as a junior, if you are willing to learn, train and grow.

Forget your fears and insecurities. They value you for your ability to learn and grow. Nobody is born with experience and the fastest way to learn is to ask what you don’t know.

Companies not only value your technical knowledge but also value people with soft skills (and emotional intelligence) who know how to communicate problems and complaints in a constructive way.

Professional growth is something that will accompany you throughout your career, you will never feel one hundred percent secure. When you are “comfortable” in a company, either because you know all the technical aspects and the business/product, changing company will make you feel junior for a while and it is normal and logical.

Sources: Stackoverflow, TheBalanceMoney

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