First off, congratulations! 🎉
Between polishing your technical toolbelt, researching companies, interviewing, etc... you've put in a lot of work. Landing your first position as a developer can be a daunting task and is something to be proud of.
Now all of your preparations have finally come to fruition and you're in the office (or your home office...) working on some neat project with your new team! But you may be beginning to wonder: "After all of that preparation, why do I feel so insecure about my skills? I've gone through screenings, technical interviews, coding tests, and still got hired!"
I'd like to say upfront and right away THIS IS NORMAL. I went through it, my coworkers went through it, and sometimes we still get these feelings. It's all part of the learning process. The goal of this article is to encourage you to take those insecure feelings and turn them into positive growth!
Your Input Is Valued
One of the most difficult humps to get over in my own journey as a developer was (and sometimes still is) the
fear of being wrong. When faced with a scenario where you and your coworkers may be tossing around ideas to fix a problem, making technical decisions, or even brainstorming new features it can be a little nerve-wracking to voice your opinions! Why is this?
- Afraid of looking like you don't know what you're doing
- Not sure if your proposed idea is the BEST POSSIBLE one
- Not yet sure if voicing your opinions is overstepping some sort of boundary
These are all valid fears, but keep in mind:
The rest of your team is human too (most likely... 🤖). If you are on a good, mindful team you should not and will not be expected to know everything. What's important is that you are engaging with your team and learning from and with them.
So ask questions! If you see something in your codebase that could be done better, bring it up! If you think tweaking that one button just the right way would make the entire page a work of UI/UX genius, throw your idea out there! The absolute worst thing that could or should happen if something is not quite on-point about your input is that your input may not be used and the other person will explain to you why, and that is the best to grow as a developer.
Your input is important, valued, and necessary in a communicative team with a common goal of growing and learning together.
Let Someone Know If You Get Stuck
I can't even count the amount of times I've been working on a project, making a ton of progress, feeling good, and then BOOM; I come across something that just boggles my mind and completely blocks my path.
In these situations it is often tempting to keep spinning your wheels, hoping that if you look long enough you will come up with a solution. While this may be true, don't be afraid to shoot a coworker a message letting them know what's going on and asking if they have any ideas. Here's why:
- The most obvious reason: it could save you a lot of time!
- Grinding your gears on one frustrating problem is a good way to burn out quickly
- Your coworker may have a solution that makes more sense than the one a
get it fixed quickmindset comes up with in that moment
Along with these reasons, I would also like to point out that from personal experience, I appreciate it when a newer developer goes to a teammate for help. It shows that they are interested in getting their task done correctly, they are conscious of how they spend their time, and they are good communicators who recognize the importance of learning from their team.
When Things Go Wrong Stay Cool
It's inevitable, at some point something with a system will go wrong, sparking an urgent scramble to get things fixed. These times are
stressful, especially if the problem is in any way related to you or your work.
In these situations, remember to try to keep a calm, clear head and tackle the problem head-on. I've worked with a number of people who, in these situations, go off the deep-end and let their emotions surpass their judgement. This can cause unnecessary stress and difficulty for the rest of the team.
Sure, some situations are urgent and time-sensitive, and if that is the case it's time to buckle up and kick it into high-gear, but try to do so in a way that allows you to remain communicative, easy to work with, and effective.
Document Your Growth
This one has become more apparent to me just over the last two years of my journey. Two years ago I took a position that was quite the step-up in terms of responsibility from what I'd had before. I have to admit, I was nervous. The culprit:
If you don't already know, in a nutshell imposter syndrome is a psychological pattern of downplaying or disregarding your own accomplishments and thinking of yourself as a fraud.
We as humans are wired for growth. We are always looking for ways to get better at what we do, setting goals for ourselves, and tracking our progress. This is fundamentally great! But as a result we tend to focus on the parts of ourselves that are lacking, often disregarding the good stuff.
In this new position I felt I had flown in under the radar and got lucky snagging a job out of my league. Looking back I wish I'd taken the time to look at my accomplishments before that position. I was 100% qualified for the job, met all the criteria, never had any major issues understanding and performing my duties. The problem was all in my head.
Because of things like this, I encourage you to document your growth! Keep a blog, journal, github repos of personal projects... whatever works best for you! Some sort of paper trail to look back on and realize you know and have experienced far more than you realize.
I hope this has been an encouraging message to you! These are just a few of my thoughts I've been contemplating lately as I speak with new developers entering jobs and looking for advice.
To sum up what was said above, have fun with your work, your team, and the whole process. Expect to fail, and expect to learn and grow from those failures.
Thanks for the read, feel free to shoot me a message if you would like any help or advice 😁
Header by pch.vector
Other image by me 🎨😎