My first 3 months as a Junior Dev

Below is my retrospective, taking inspiration from Atlassian’s retro here.

Multi-tasking at its best lol

A map of the last 3 months

January

I started my first junior dev job. We put together a coding curriculum, which I started following but soon felt lonely and apart from the day to day running of the company. I discussed this with a colleague and he gave me some business work so I could start contributing to the team, which was positive.

February

I told my colleagues I didn’t feel the company could absorb a junior developer, because there was little time for pairing. I renegotiated my job role and salary to come in line with the business work I was doing.

I started looking elsewhere for support with coding. In early Feb, I attended my first Thoughtbot office hour. Pablo and Rob have been pairing with me regularly since then.

At the end of Feb I found an open source project to contribute to and got in touch with Chase, who has spent 2 hours a week pairing with me on the repo since then. This has literally been the highlight of my year so far.

March

Attended Global CFP day and submitted my first tech talk proposal, which was accepted! I attended my first hackathon by Women Driven Development.

I put code into production for the first time at work!

What went well?

Although my junior dev day job did not turn out as I expected, I really enjoy working with my colleagues and there is definitely a strong culture fit.

The open source work with Chase has been the highlight of the year. I am so touched that he spends so much time with me and I am so incredibly proud of the work we have completed.

The second best thing has been Rob and Pablo at Thoughtbot.

Finally, my career mentors, Andra and Eddie have continued to support me. I’m so grateful for their advice and encouragement.

Concrete Actions

I’ve created a solid strategy for Q2 that is partially tested, so I‘m really confident that this is going to be super fun. The first week has already gone super well, which I’m recording here.

What did you learn?

I’ve learnt that due diligence on prospective employers is really important. If you’re looking for your first developer role, ask the team for their track record mentoring juniors. If they’re a small company that hasn’t brought on a junior before, you could agree how much time they will spend pairing with you everyday.

Be honest with your team. I renegotiated my role because I could see it wasn’t working and they could too. I’m glad I spoke up and I’m hoping very soon we can get back to a place where I’m coding more at work, rather than just in my spare time.

I’ve learnt that there are lots of developers out there who love teaching and are motivated to help others. Use the resources available to you, such as open source projects, Codebar and companies like Thoughtbot and Pixielabs ( both London based) who have office hours.

What do you long for going forward?

I want a job where I can be a junior dev 80% of the time. I’m going to keep working hard and I’m sure I’ll get there soon.

Junior developer