2 Biggest Mistakes Junior Developers Make

Running @thedevlife on Instagram has exposed me to a lot of questions from software developers and engineers from different skill levels and experience. Using that information, along with my personal experiences in the industry, I have identified the two mistakes new developers make. If you are new to software development, this might be beneficial.

Waiting Too Long

When is a developer ready to start creating applications? That is one of the most popular questions I get. My answer to that question is “now.” Let me explain why. When I get that question from a developer, I take that question as asking for confirmation or in an indirect way asking for me to give them a little push to start working on an application. Sometimes it might even feel as if they are asking for permission to start. When you are new to programming, you might feel uncomfortable, and you might lack the confidence to start building, that is a natural feeling. However, you should put that feeling aside and get started as quickly as you can.

Some developers wait until they feel comfortable with the language or framework they are working with to start building. If you do that, you might have waited too long. One of the reasons you want to start building applications is to have something to show when you are interviewing for a position. The lack of a portfolio can have a substantial negative impact on your career. Waiting too long is not advisable. The applications or services you build might not become a great success, but you will gain experience by working on them. The apps you create can also be used in your portfolio.

Not Being Coachable

Sometimes I come across developers who love to use the phrase “I know” to cut someone off when a peer is trying to get a point across. The worst part about this is that some of the time, they actually don’t know what is being explained to them; they use the phrase “I know” to not appear vulnerable. If you always say you already know, your peers will stop trying to help you out because you will not be approachable. Sometimes, even if I already do know what is being explained to me, I give the other person a chance to say what they want to say because I could be wrong. Sometimes I am surprised and pick up a bit of new knowledge just by letting someone explain what they have to say or explain. 

My advice to you is to stay humble, showing your vulnerability might feel uncomfortable, but it has lots of value long term because you will learn from having concepts explained to you. On the other hand, if you are not open, you would be making it more difficult for yourself to learn new things.

Final Thoughts

 Remaining coachable expresses to the ones around you that you are open and willing to learn new things. Learning in tech or any other space for that matter is very important. The moment you stop learning, you start dying.

A Tip to Overcome the Impostor Syndrome

The way I started my career was unorthodox, a combination of a bit of college and the vast majority I was self-taught. While working in the construction field for 12 years, I did freelance work as a software developer in my spare time. Shortly after that, I became a co-founder in a small startup that combined my skills in the construction industry and software development. I was very confident and successful (with the help of a friend) in developing the product we were trying to launch, but unfortunately, as the majority of startups, we ran out of runway before getting enough traction. I found myself at a crossroads, asking myself whether I should go back to working in construction full-time or get a job as a software developer.

I chose the latter, and for a while, I struggled with impostor syndrome. Looking back, I don’t think that I should have, because I had enough experience to be competent in the workplace as a developer. Whether the way I felt was rational or not, I still felt somewhat incompetent.

The Struggle

Showing up to work every day for a while was daunting. The uncertainty, whether I was going to be able to step up to the plate, was always looming. The internal struggle was constantly there, and hiding it from colleagues was draining. Appearing confident was taking its toll over time. The primary source of motivation was the fact that I was doing something I loved. I worked hard to get there and earn the opportunity to do it.

Change Your Perception

I kept working hard, stayed humble, and coachable. After a while, I realized that I was competent and capable enough to complete tasks efficiently. I worked hard, always putting a significant emphasis on learning and I still do to this day. The only thing I had to change was my perception of the whole situation. I ended up understanding that I was doing everything I should be doing to do well as a developer. I was too hard of a critic on myself. I started seeing the circumstance as some type of friction I had to overcome. The Universe’s friction is how I came to understand it after reading a few self-help books. The position I had found myself in was something that I will always have to work against one way or another. Focusing on being grateful for the opportunity and continually remembering that I’m allowed to do something I love every day started diminishing the impact that insecurity had on me.

It’s the Universe’s friction. Don’t give up.

I come from a technical background, so naturally, I looked for a logical solution for the way I felt. Trying to learn a new skill or skills seemed like a reasonable way of solving my problem. It turned out, the solution that worked for me was trying to digest the situation more spiritually. The root of the problem was the fact that there was a significant change in my life. I was in a new environment, new job, and new co-workers. Behind the scenes, this big change comes bundled up with a significant dose of uncertainty in your life. Every change in your life will come bundled up this way. Whenever you are trying to get ahead in life, expect this friction to be there, and stay your course.