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I am a Junior in IT – now what?

I am a Junior in IT – now what?

Read about things you need to avoid before searching for your first IT job and to focus on as a junior developer.

There is a time in every programmer’s career when he or she becomes a junior. In theory, a junior is someone who has basic programming knowledge in a given language and can use it at a rudimentary level. A person like this should not be left to their own devices. Instead, they need somebody more experienced by their side to oversee their work and offer day-to-day support. In an ideal world, a junior developer has a mentor who is not only a seasoned veteran, but also adept at sharing that knowledge. However, many hold a misguided perception about who a junior developer actually is. Why?

First Setback

This is evident following job interviews for so much as a Junior Front-end Developer. As entry-level access to programming, a position like this draws a large interest in job search platforms. Generally, all you need is proficiency in HTML, CSS, JavaScript, Git. Brief exposure to one or more web frameworks (like React) is also welcome.

There are many candidates for this job. A large number of applicants, however, despite checking all the right points off their resumes, having a few GitHub projects and completed programming courses, are unable to solve a simple task.

I used to ask my applicants to center a random image horizontally and vertically, then frame it with a 1px circle. After you hover over the image, it would display a tooltip with a random text box. Any technique was acceptable, no holds barred. It was nothing hard, because my main objective was to find a junior, and I wanted to know how fast he or she would complete the task, and whether he or she knows the basics.

Kuba Wikliński

Too many people were unable to reach the midpoint, often getting stuck on aligning the image. There were moments when they would write a style in .css while having an HTML file at hand, struggling to connect the two.

These types of people usually completed a 3-month programming boot camp in one of those popular schools and had a GitHub account with basically the same 3 projects every time. So why do they fail miserably on seemingly simple tasks during a job interview?

Practice on Your Own

The reason they were struggling with simple tasks was pretty straightforward. There is nothing wrong with boot camps per se.  Attending a 350h course and following a step-by-step instruction as we write down the entire code off the board may help us prepare those 3 GitHub projects. but are those really our projects? If you want to start working as a programmer, apart from attending boot camps, you need to practice coding on your own. Create small personal projects that are 100% yours instead of a result of a painstakingly meticulous step-by-step tutorial.

Working on your projects, even the simplest ones, has also another purpose – you learn to find and gather information and solve problems that can pop up along the way. Most courses give you the solution on a silver platter. The real world does not work that way. Personal projects make us look for a solution to the problem we face when running them.

Not That Hard

 When applying for a job as a junior, remember this: You do not need any elaborate projects. A simple website with animations or a webpage that extracts data from an external API in an interesting fashion are more than enough. The practice is what counts! When we go through several self-made projects, we begin seeing problems that make us study the code we made and understand it. We also need to look for information and possible solutions on our own. Unfortunately, many boot camps provide answers on a silver platter. The students are not required to look for solutions. This is why the applicants struggling with the task had no idea what to look for to solve problems despite being allowed to use the Internet freely.

When you start your first job, dear Junior, you will spend your days looking for solutions to questions and problems that need to be troubleshot to complete a project. It is not about knowing all the answers but how to find them.

Kuba Wikliński

The mere concept of looking for information gives you yet another edge. You often stumble upon different solutions from different people that provide different problem-solving approaches. That will teach you to experiment and try different troubleshooting methods. As well as (I hope) choose the solutions that are best suited to you and the most reasonable to your needs.

To Sum Up

 All in all, boot camps, online courses, webinars are not inherently bad. They might serve you well in your programming career. However, you will not go further without learning on your own and utilizing your knowledge by practicing. Practice, practice, and more practice.


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