How to Improve as a Junior Developer

by Aleckson Nyamwaya · Published on February 24, 2020

Communication graphic

Want to know the secret to being a more productive junior developer?

Here it is: be a better communicator.

No, this is not a gimmick, nor is it clickbait. This is a real strategy that I use and it increased my productivity ten-fold.

Entry-level developers can consistently feel that their work is not good enough. This leads to a constant fear of getting fired. There’s a term for this feeling: impostor syndrome, described by Very Well Mind as “the experience of feeling like a phony — you feel as though at any moment you are going to be found out as a fraud.”

To address this feeling, junior developers can develop many toxic habits.

One, in particular, is an unhealthy work-life balance. A junior developer will perform their work from 9 am to 5 pm, and when they get home after work, they keep going from 5 pm to 10 pm, reasoning that if they spend more hours working, they will improve and get better. While the reasoning might be correct, it is improperly applied.

The truth of the matter is that most of your learning happens away from the computer. I once figured out how to solve a bug in a dream!

A better way to address impostor syndrome is to communicate to the person you directly report to (also known as the one who has the power to fire you).

Tips to effectively communicate with your boss:

Routinely discuss expectation levels on both sides.

The first step is to understand whether or not you’ve been meeting their expectations. If not, make a plan with your manager outlining what actions you will both take to help you meet the expectations going forward.

Don't be afraid to ask questions.

Move beyond the “stand up” and talk to them every day about where you are stuck. Two minutes of talking through a bug with them might save you hours of work on your own.

Ask for feedback.

Set up a monthly one-on-one to get feedback on how they perceive your work/productivity and where you can improve.

Submit that PTO request.

Don’t overwork yourself and take necessary time off. Let your manager know that this is important to you; do not sweep this one under the rug.

As you kick butt in your daily job, just remember this:

Growing from an entry-level to a junior level developer can be solely based on improving one’s engineering skills. Growing from a junior to a senior level developer involves improvement in both engineering and interpersonal skills.

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