5 Final and Definitive Tips for Junior Developers
Following on from our first and second blog posts in this series, we’re finishing the series up with this third and final set of five definitive tips for you.
Of all those diverse people that you will meet a key goal for your career will be to find a mentor but there are some important points that you need to know. A mentor answers questions and offers advice to you so you need to be clear and specific about your own goals and what you want to achieve otherwise they will not be able to help you effectively. You must find the right people to mentor you – don’t always look for people similar to yourself, sometimes it is important to be aware of and learn different perspectives. When you believe you have found someone that might be able to mentor you, reach out and establish a relationship but make it easy for them to mentor you – be respectful especially around any time constraints they may have.
Always listen and show them you value their feedback by being communicative and thankful – you can always show gratitude by letting them know how much you appreciate their help. And always be helpful to them in return if you can. Finally, note that mentors will change over time because of your own needs and where your career takes you. Those previous mentors are still important to you, so don’t you forget about them.
Our final and definitive set of inspirational tips
This is the last in our series of blog posts with inspirational tips for junior developers.
1. Learn the standard tools and libraries
The responsibilities of a junior developer will vary but it’s always extremely useful to be aware of and know some of the standard tools and libraries. You should quickly learn how/where to find the language references and how to get information on these. Here are some of those standard tools and libraries that we recommend you consider:
Microsoft Excel (productivity tool)
Basic Linux/UNIX commands
Integrated development environments (IDEs) + text editors
Git (code repository and for version control)
SQL (for database interactivity)
Docker (OS-level virtualization to deliver software in packages called containers)
Kubernetes (open-source system for automating deployment, scaling, and management of containerized applications)
Postman (building, testing, and using APIs)
Amazon Web Services (AWS) and other common cloud computing services
2. Take an interest in software and system architecture
You will need to learn how software, application, and apps are deployed especially those in which you, and the company you work for, are involved. The New Stack has an excellent primer on Understanding Software and System Architecture.
3. Rotate your pull requests
Multiple personnel often review code and each of them have their own strengths and weaknesses, their own coding styles, and their own way of commenting. Learn what these are for each person that reviews your code and use it to your advantage. When similarities occur in the comments you will know that any of them could review a certain type of code whereas each of their individual specialties might help you better and more speedily with a particular bit of code you are working on. This way you will also pick up common pitfalls from all of them and learn much quicker overall.
4. Think like the end users
This cannot be stated enough – not everyone thinks like you! Emotion, logic, the way people visualize, learn, and remember stuff is all important to understand. You can’t just knock some code out and expect all your users to know what to do. The following are worth reading up on and becoming knowledgeable about:
How people learn – there are four types of learning and although people use all four, most people single out and have a prevalence for just one of them: visual, audio, reading, and kinesthetic (aka VARK).
What do people expect? – a lot can be said for Apple’s human interface guidelines.
Hidden options – whatever you do, do not hide common functionality. There is no excuse to hide such things and is probably one of the worst mistakes you can make in a modern user interface/user experience.
Ambiguous icons – there are some icons that are now ubiquitous: the Wi-Fi bars, refresh rounded arrow, search magnifying glass, house home button, etc., but it is all too easy to become ambiguous, especially in the modern, minimalist era of tiny screen devices. One such example is the icon known as the “hamburger” – is it a menu, is it a list, is it just three lines?
Readability – Smaller screens, smaller devices don’t offer a lot of options and the reality is that most people don’t have your multi-display, super-jumbo-wide, ultra-ultra high definition, mega pixel count monitor. Small dark grey text on a light grey background – just don’t do it!
Accessibility – This is often overlooked because, well, you might not have an impairment or disability but there are plenty of people out there who do (in 2011 the WHO reported that 15% of the world’s population has some sort of disability - PDF). You should consider visual, hearing, physical, and cognitive accessibility when you are programming. One such, very simple impairment is red–green color blindness – again, don’t do it!
5. Stay up to date
Finally, and if you are involved in any business that either wants to be profitable and/or efficient (which let’s face it, is probably 99.99% of them) you need to stay on top of things. Learn about the business you are involved in. Keep track of what’s going on in your industry and technological areas. Read the news – the proper news, not a click-bait, divisive, social commentary, diatribe publisher. In fact, try to avoid those things altogether – you will not only program better, but you’ll also live a better life.
Don’t give up – don’t burn out!
All of our tips for junior developers will add valuable experience and knowledge to your portfolio, resume, and possibly even gain you a certification or two along the way. And as your career progresses, you’ll know how to answer those future, awkward interview questions, and get the next promotion, job, or salary boost that you are looking for. If you’re looking to do just that, be sure to explore your options.
This is the last in our series of junior developers’ tips, but we regularly publish interesting blog posts about recruitment and data intelligence, so why not bookmark our resources web page or follow us on social media (LinkedIn / Facebook / Twitter).