Dear Junior Developer 💌

Tech journey wisdom from one Engineer to another.

Preface: This is not a love letter.

First thing I want to say is: Get excited! 🎉

I don’t know what your background is, or what path you’re taking to learn to code. Regardless, you’re entering a new field, maybe even a new industry, and that is super exciting!

But forreal though…

We have all started off as junior developers, which means most of us understand the trials and tribulations of being one. We know the stresses include:

Learning📚

Regardless of what path you’re coming from, whether it’s a CS degree, bootcamp, or being self-taught, the learning never stops. You can continue learning a tech stack you’re already familiar with, or add new technologies onto your plate. The pro to learning more about something you’re already familiar with is that it can become your niche. You can be really great at that thing. The con is that the market is always changing, and something new is always in demand. You may not want to limit yourself to opportunities in this unpredictable industry.

Learning more, new technologies makes you versatile. Being experienced with multiple technologies could land you more opportunities, especially if employers can take 2 jobs (and 2 salaries) and make it 1 by hiring you. You can also negotiate for more with such a dynamic background. Being versatile also isn’t limited to a tech stack, it can be a skill. Perhaps you can code and design- that makes you a double threat in the job market⚔️

If you’re struggling to decide what to learn, look at what’s popular in the market, or even look at the companies you wish to work for and see what tech stack they’re using. That’s a good starting point.

Don’t overwhelm yourself, just keep the above in mind. Learn something, understand it, be able to build with it, then move onto the next thing. You want to be good at something, not mediocre at a bunch of things.

The job hunt 🔍

Nobody likes this. It could be exciting at the very beginning, but eventually it’s just tiring.

Have you applied to (what feels like) hundreds of jobs? Have you gotten to a point of desperation where you applied to anything, even if it didn’t sound interesting? Yeah, us too.

Job hunting is hard. Filling out application after application is annoying. Cover-letters, ugh, don’t even get me started! Unfortunately, that’s part of the process. Fortunately, it’s not all you have to rely on😉

Networking is the key to life. Not just in tech, not just in the job search, but for everything. Networking can get you through doors easier than others. Networking introduces you to people who can make an enormous impact on your career, and life. Use the the internet and social media to your advantage. Get involved with different communities, engage and build relationships with people in those communities. Let them know your goals, because you never know where that will lead you. People will remember you and keep you in mind when an opportunity that fits you crosses their path.

Examples of networking:

Follow people in your field/desired field on Twitter and LinkedIn. Engage with their tweets and posts. Do the same for people who work at the companies you want to work at. Ask them questions, and tell them your goals when it’s appropriate. You can also try DMing them but not everyone answers right away, or at all. Wait for them to post something relevant and then shoot your shot.

Technical Interviews 💻

Some people really enjoy these, but I don’t know many junior developers who get excited for them. They can be scary, especially when it’s an algorithmic challenge. Personally, I wish companies would stop giving challenges irrelevant to the job, but that’s just me (and many many others).

As soon as you find out you’ve landed a chance at a technical interview, ask them if there’s anything you could do to prepare. Ask them what you should be brushing up on. If you think you need a lot of preparation, give yourself enough time to really study and schedule the interview further out. Some companies have deadlines, and you may have to fall within their limit for an interview, so try to be at the very end of the limit if necessary.

When you’re on the interview, all you can do is try your best. Transparency is best, so if you don’t know something, it’s okay to be honest. Whatever you do, don’t give up. Try. Make an attempt, or several if you can. At the end of the day, an interview is a learning experience. Take it and run with it.

Oh! Always ask your interviewer for feedback. How will you grow if you don’t know what you could have done better? Get👏🏾 that👏🏾 feed👏🏾 back👏🏾

Real quick: if you’ve tried time after time after time to get a job, and still haven’t landed one- guess what? Us too. Keep learning, keep studying, keep building, keep going. It’s part of the process.

Salary 💰

I’m no pro in this area, but I do have tips when it comes to salary negotiation.

The job posting may have the salary range for the role. This doesn’t mean the company will give you the starting or max salary, but you want an idea of what they’re budgeting for.

Tips:

-look at Glassdoor and take a look at where the salary falls for a junior developer role

-check the market salary for a junior developer in your area

-with those two things in mind, negotiate on the higher end. You can always come down if necessary

You got the job 🎉

Congratulations! You did it. You got your foot in the door, and you’re about to gain a ton of experience. Personally, when I got my first job, that’s when I learned how much I didn’t know. I wasn’t just hired as a front-end developer to build out the UI of the website, I learned about testing, I learned so much about user experience, and automating tasks so that I could focus on more important ones.

Learning how much you don’t know and running into mistake after mistake can cause some serious imposter syndrome. Please remember, it’s normal. You can’t know everything, you may not get everything right on the 1st, 2nd, or even 3rd try. That’s not a reflection on you or your skills, it’s just part of being a developer. Don’t compare yourself to your teammates, even though that’s easier said than done. We all learn and grasp things differently. We’re humans, that’s just what it is.

Random gem drop💎 read this blog post on learning how to ask for help without feeling like a burden: here

My advice to set you up for success: when you get the job, ask to meet with your manager weekly, or bi-weekly. Use that time to find out how you’re doing, and what you could be doing better. Tell your manager your goals, and your intentions within the company. How do you want to grow? How do you work best? Tell your manager. If you’re struggling with a task or a project, be sure to tell your manager. Ask if there’s an opportunity to set some consecutive time aside to be mentored in a certain area. Always advocate for yourself.

I’m going to leave this off with telling you: Enjoy your journey. Everyone’s is different, and there’s no wrong path to what you define as success.


Upcoming event✨

Amazon Technical Interview Prep by Outco X Black Tech Pipeline

Join this class to learn how to prepare and what to expect from each stage of the Amazon technical interview process. Included in this class are the types of questions for Amazon’s phone screen, coding challenge, and on-site technical interviews.

Registration: here