The week before I began my first job as a web developer, I scoured the internets looking for the experiences of other junior devs: What would a typical day look like? What would be expected of me? Did I just get in way over my large(ish) head?
Surprisingly there were few examples of what a your day to day looks like as a dev, and unsurprisingly, similar to looking up symptoms for your cold on Google, I left more afraid of my first week than if I had never done that search.
You don’t understand the nuances of protoypal inheritance? What a noob!
I didn’t get outed as a noob developer in my first month, in part because I didn’t actually code… Most of the time was spent learning the applications we were making, practicing on our IDE and watching much better developers create code.
After a month of shadowing, gaining confidence and doing small tasks here and there I was finally ready to break out on my own and contribute to the exponentially growing number of bugs our team creates. Here’s what my day looks like now:
Our morning consists of a short meeting where we each summarize what we did the day before, what we will do for the current day and bring up any issues the team should know about, like a critical bug in our app.
After meeting I walk to my desk, put my earphones on and code out to the illest country and gangster ass rap music Spotify has to offer. Before I get too deep in my playlist, I’ll look over the user story for the feature I’m responsible for working on. A user story will outline what the feature does, a mock up to help us as we design the layout and an estimate of the hours it should take complete.
While we have a lot of user stories, we have more bugs. This is the reality of coding; I’ll spend about a quarter of my week or more fixing these pesky critters.
In between user stories, I’ll inevitably get an email asking me to update the intranet site our company uses or a software support ticket from one of our users that may require a phone call, a code update or walking someone through uploading Adobe Acrobat.
I’ll leave work, go home and work on side projects and usually spend my mornings thinking about how to attack a bug before I get in.
While my dev job is at a mid-sized established company, my experience seems pretty typical based on conversations I’ve had with other developers. Is it sexy coding? Yeah, sometimes. I mean creating API’s and developing apps people will use with real world consequences is just cool. Software support… is well, software support and this part of the job has forced me to develop a better understanding of how customers use our apps and gives me the needed human contact that is often devoid when you’re staring at a screen with earphones on for most of the day.
So if you’re reading this, freaking out about your first day, week, or month as junior dev, hopefully this has calmed your jittery nerves and once you survive your first few months, hopefully you’ll contribute to the blogosphere and share your (hopefully) less than awful experience as well.