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How I Survived My First Week As A Software Developer?

Software developer is a job that many people find attractive and challenging. That person has a main role is to create the foundations for operative systems on which Computer Programmers work. Have you wonder how a first week of a software developer looks like?

A story from Gregory ‘Grey’ Barkans - a Software Developer in Guelph, Ontario

“It has been a week since I started my internship at a medium-sized software company as a software developer. I'm a self-taught, highly motivated person who mostly focused on Java Script and found a full-time job by going to meetups and being honest, willing, and friendly.

I was extremely nervous on my first day. I used to think that they had the wrong person and only hired me because my name was like someone else and maybe they mixed it up. However, I don't think that was the case now as I'm honored that I was chosen to be a part of my team, all of these people are very awesome, and I really enjoy working with them.

The truth is this is not the first time that I have developed professionally. Before, my prior experiences were only in academic, OSS, and freelance settings. So, what follows is a picture about what made my first week so cool.” – said Mr. Barkans.

Remember to take notes

Everybody says the thought of taking notes reminds them of lectures, meetings, and research: Of course, a first day of work is not on the list of scenarios for a software developer. On the other hand, you will be bombarded with important information via orientations, tours, and company history on your first day of work. It’s really a combination of all the above, but with the added caveat that it takes place in a foreign setting. Consequently, it’s easy to feel you need to catch up so hard to escape from information overload, and helpful facts may not be absorbed in time. Then, you will realize that taking notes on a first day is clearly critical so that the bunch of new information does not compete for brain space against the overwhelming excitement that will be swirling around your head.

Software developer job involves planning, learning, and creativity. Regarding planning, major tasks are organized by project managers and tracked in digital applications. But daily tasks are often self-managed, and it’s worth spending a few minutes to write down your goals of the next work session. As a software developer, he advises planning for the current day either immediately after arriving or before leaving on the previous day. It is common to blueprint, sketch, and jot when learning new technologies or engaging in design. Yet we must go one step further to obtain the full value of every activity, which leads to your long-term realization of personal growth. When he catches a moment alone, his mind instinctively drifts towards reflection. Though, some prefer scheduled “check-ins”, it is important to capture the major takeaways of those reflections.

Tips in noting

About how to take notes, he recommends a basic lined Moleskine or anything that closely approximates one. Practically, if you prefer using a highly portable laptop, typing will be quicker. Irrespective of the note-taking device, the mechanisms of taking notes are all the same:

  • The device should be portable.

  • It is encouraged to write a short entry during or immediately after spontaneous reflections and intriguing ideas.

  • Minimalize your notes to the essentials, a question/answer dialog with bullet points may be helpful.

  • Title and date your entries in order so that you capture themes and growth timelines.

Ask Questions

Asking questions is a critical part of the ongoing conversation, also known as “onboarding.” Many people hold a fear that asking questions leads to negative outcomes such as appearing incompetent or annoying colleagues. The truth is, many of us have worked in a hostile environment. If you’ve ever been put down for asking questions (particularly as a new employee), he states straightforward: They are in the wrong (in some cases, are just assholes). A healthy environment demands collaboration and teamwork, which can only be accomplished if each member feels enough confident to really engage in any discussion.

Building relationships to software developer takes time and is exponentially harder the longer one delays initial contact. His office is shared among teams working on separate project with various roles. He is a full-stack developer on a dedicated project, and you know what, he sits near a database administrator that mainly oversees a different set of projects. Then, he chose to make efforts to introduce himself to them and asked if they could give him a brief on their work. Consequently, they now hold casual conversation whenever they see each other. If any of his tasks depend upon or could benefit from their direction, he also feels confident approaching them down the line.

Helpfulness of Critical Question

A critical set of questions are those regarding setup of your work environment. As a software developer, by asking the right questions, he not only got his laptop upgraded, but his co-worker found that some documents for setting up the dev environment was outdated. He said if he had instead rolled up his sleeves and put his head down for a week, simply trying to get the project running on his local machine, then he’d look fairly incompetent. Instead, he submitted a PR on the very first day! So much for asking questions equating to incompetency. Does it make sense?

Be Open to Review and Constructive Criticism for Better Self – Improvement.

His second PR at work was over 300 lines and took three days. The reason it took so long is that he reviewed it 5 times before it was merged. During that time, he confidently pushed code after careful inspection just to receive multiple comments, suggestions, and highlights. Granted, some of these comments were modifications to requirements, the logic was updated fittingly. But more than a handful of times, his reviewer left several comments which help him to improve his code. This experience of constructive criticism and collaborative algorithm design has been one of the most worthwhile in his career to date.

It is critical to remember that software is built collaboratively, especially for those taking too a little too much pride in their code. Each software developer brings unique insights, then we use well-defined tools and adhere to standards and protocols to the best of our ability. Despite these efforts, there is always a mix of ad hoc solutions and heuristics. When facing review, you can still hold pride — but that pride is for your role as part of a team and the quality software you guys have built together.

Last but not least, code is a universal language for software developers. Design discussions, requirements and mocks have obvious use but do not always readily translate to code. Once the code is written, your team can zoom out and understand each other’s challenges and perspectives. Hence, most development cycles are very iterative. Often, until some of the logic is first attempted, requirements are not complete. Review then becomes a natural part of the process, which is a critical aspect of the cycle and something to openly embrace. Eventually, it’s a conversation held in a domain-specific language.

From our perspective

This story is based on Mr. Barkans shares about his first week as a software developer on Medium, JT1 also agrees with Mr. Barkans that beginning a new job is equally breathtaking and challenging. In the context of joining a software team, self-reflection, collaboration, and learning from colleagues will help you form the major basis for not only getting started in the right direction, but for maintaining its long-term as well.

After all, we should attempt to be lifelong learners of not just others, but also of ourselves.


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