5 Useful Mantras for the Junior Developer

My name is Rein, and I am a Codaisseur graduate. I joined the Academy at the end of July 2016 and, after 8 weeks of immersive learning, I found a job as a back-end developer at Florin, a FinTech startup based in Amsterdam.

5 years ago   •   3 min read

By Codaisseur
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My name is Rein, and I am a Codaisseur graduate. I joined the Academy at the end of July 2016 and, after 8 weeks of immersive learning, I found a job as a back-end developer at Florin, a FinTech startup based in Amsterdam.

At the time of writing I have been programming professionally for 6 months and it has been great. However, being a junior developer has its share of challenges.

You learn the fastest by being thrown in the deep end and that means being out of your comfort zone on a regular basis. The pressure of your colleagues, who count on you, can take the fun out of programming if you let it. And when you can’t figure out how to do something, you can feel very unproductive.

To endure and combat these challenges, I have a number of mantras for myself which I would like to share with you. They actually work!

1) I can do anything! (if I have enough time)

“I can do anything!” Now this might not be strictly true, however I find it helps colleagues understand my situation as an inexperienced developer: I am slow, but I am able. This mantra helps me be confident when approaching problems and facing new challenges. It’s useful to hang onto it when things get frustrating.

function doIt(anything, time) {

anything.progress++;

time--;

if (anything.progress === done) celebrate();

if (time) doIt(anything, time);

}

2) I do only one thing at a time

I work more efficiently if I only do one thing at a time. Most of the time I do only programming. And when I am programming, I try to complete a single task. When a colleague asks me a question, I stop programming and interact instead. I can’t program and talk to people at the same time because I do only one thing at a time. Out of all my mantras, I find this the hardest one to stick to. But when I do I am always more productive.

3) I do not give time estimates of things I have not done before

The people who are in charge of deciding “what to do next” often ask how long something would take. I get that big wins for little effort should be prioritized, however, since I am not good at estimating things I haven’t done before, it’s a bad idea to base any decisions on it. Therefore I don’t give any time estimates on the spot of things I have never done. As tempting as it may be, this mantra prevents me from over-promising.

function giveTimeEstimate(task, experience) {

let lookPro

if (experience.includes(task)) {

lookPro = true;

return timeEstimate(task);

}

lookPro = false;

throw new Error('I don\'t know how long this will take');

}

4) I am not my code

My programmer colleagues have opinions about my code. They point out my mistakes, they point out my style violations. They might not use something that I wrote, they might delete something I spent a lot of time making. That’s fine with me and it’s a natural part of being a junior programmer. I don’t take it personally because I am not my code. This mantra helps me accept feedback without losing enthusiasm and motivation.

5) I will submit my work often and with confidence

If everything is going well, I steadily submit work. If I can’t regularly, it means there is a problem and in that case I should raise a flag. If you submit regularly, it’s very hard to get lost because your colleagues can see what you’re doing and don’t lose track of the task you are focusing on. There might be mistakes in my code or it can still be improved, but I’ll submit it with confidence anyway. It’s never going to be perfect and this mantra helps me be determined when shipping stuff!

I am sure some of my thoughts will resonate with my classmates, Codaisseur graduates and anyone who is starting off a coding journey. These 5 mantras definitely helped me be more positive and effective at work despite my limited, but growing experience as a junior developer.

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