Top 5 Mistakes I Made As A Junior Developer
In this article, I want to talk about the top five mistakes I made as a junior developer. They are not specific to my case, and many other developers have made the same mistakes.
As a result, I want to put them in writing so that others can see and avoid them. Without further ado, let's see what these mistakes are and how to avoid them.
1. I did not ask questions
One of the misconceptions many junior developers have is that their questions are stupid. How many times did you avoid asking a question thinking that it's silly?
I do not know about you, but this misconception stopped me from asking a lot of questions. And guess what the result was; I was confused, and I did not know how to approach tasks.
Thus, I encourage you to ask questions no matter how stupid you think they are. Most of the time, other developers have or had the same questions. If anyone makes you feel bad for asking questions, it's their problem, not yours.
2. I own the tutorial hell
This mistake is a classic: being trapped in the tutorial hell. Many developers, including myself, are watching tutorials rather than writing code. Why is that? Watching tutorials and copying code from the instructor gives you a false sense of accomplishment and progress. However, in the long-term, it's the opposite.
Do not get me wrong; tutorials are useful. Do one or two to pick up the concepts you want to learn, but do not be stuck there. The actual learning happens when you try out things and struggle. Building one application by yourself teaches you more than ten tutorials. The reason for that is that YOU have to think and work; there is no instructor to spoon-feed you with code and instructions.
One of the best things you can do is write a lot of code if you want to learn. Tutorials are good, but up to a point. Do one or two to understand what you want to learn, and then start building stuff.
3. No risks, only comfort
Another mistake I made was to stay in my comfort zone. What do I mean by that? I used to pick the tasks that were easy and comfortable to do. Completing those tasks gave me a false sense of accomplishment, which in the long-run hurt my progress.
I did not challenge myself, and I did not try to do more challenging tasks. As a result, I was stuck at the same level. You cannot progress by staying in your comfort zone.
It's necessary to punch above your weight sometimes. Doing only challenging tasks is not the way either. So what should we do then? Mix them. Do not do only easy tasks, so you do not stay at the same level forever. Simultaneously, do not try only challenging tasks because sooner or later, you feel and become demoralized. Mix them.
4. Social media gurus
One of the worst things you can do is to listen to social media gurus. I am talking about the ones that preach working non-stop, sacrificing everything for "success," and so on. It's toxic positivity, which is harmful.
You do not have to live and breathe code to be a good developer. You do not have to code 24/7. You do not have to code after work. Does it help to code after work or more in general? Absolutely. Is that a requirement to be a developer or a good developer? Absolutely not.
I used to guide my life after these gurus, and I burnt out twice. Not once, but twice. Therefore, be aware of these false claims and toxic positivity. There is more to life than coding and working.
5. Too quiet
Lastly, I was too quiet in the meetings, and I hardly participated. I was afraid to participate in discussions, thinking that I have nothing valuable to add. But that's not true!
Even though you might be a junior developer, it does not mean you do not have anything valuable to add to a discussion. Moreover, if you say something technically erroneous, that can be corrected. Besides that, it might help you clarify your misunderstandings about the projects you are working on.
Of course, that does not mean talking just for the sake of talking. Just do not let any fear hold you back from expressing your opinions. You are a junior developer, you are valuable, and you have useful things to add to discussions!
Finally, these are the mistakes I made as a junior developer. You may find yourself making the same mistakes. If you do, try to learn from this article and rectify them.
- Ask questions, no matter how stupid you think they are.
- Do not fall into the tutorial hell. Watch one or two tutorials, and then write code. A lot of code.
- Make sure that you do a mix of easy and challenging tasks.
- Do not listen to the social media gurus and toxic positivity. There is more to life than working and coding.
- Contribute in what ways you can. Do not be quiet; you are valuable!
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Really love the comment on toxic positivity as it's something that's driven me mad for as long as I can remember.
It's all too easy to compare your own journey and success with others, especially these gurus on social media as you point out, and end up burning out from all the overworking and guilt.
Been there, done that - have learned that the best metric for success is comparing myself to myself.
Thanks for the great advice as always, Catalin.