Feeling adventurous ? become developer : choose another profession
Hurdles of a beginning developer
So, you’ve done a bootcamp, congratulations you’re now a programmer!! It’s weird to think that now you have a developers’ certificate for the whole world to see, but it still doesn’t feel like you’re a dev. Now you can start applying for jobs as a junior developer and dip your toes in a new project. With this new job comes your first programming experience, and the ups and downs of being a junior in a field of seniors.
When we wrapped up our bootcamp, we didn’t feel confident that we had a dev toolkit; we were so lucky to come across and be able to apply for a Summer of Code together. Entering a program where you can start learning by doing was a great opportunity to dip our toes into a real project and an amazing stepping-stone to an eventual job. We spent some time after our bootcamp classes checking our application and searching for coaches. We had our doubts during the process, thinking we would be so lucky if we were to be chosen, so we chose the projects that we felt comfortable with and most familiar. We reached out to the community to find coaches willing to invest time for a whole three months during the program. Alina already knew who our first coach would be, Daniel. By reaching out to reddit Amsterdam community we found our second coach Jack.
We felt a bit like imposters even..
With hindsight I guess we’ve been blessed with the way everything worked out for us. We got into the program quickly, even though there were lots of good teams to choose from. I think we didn’t expect that we had been selected, when the news came. I guess we felt a bit like imposters even, with so little coding coding experience and always thinking that we don’t know enough. Even though Rails Girls is meant for teams like ours, there’s definitely still a voice in the back of your head telling you don’t have what it takes.
We’ve realised that it’s actually good to have that voice there, since it will probably stay with us our whole career (we might as well get used to it). Seasoned developers online even have a blogs on the subject of imposter syndrome. It’s good to learn early on that this is there to stay. It’s selfishly nice to know that every developer out there has these feelings, and it doesn’t seem to matter how experienced you are. In the end coding comes down to this feeling, but the only expectations you’re not meeting are the ones YOU CREATE for yourself. Things like algorithms, frameworks, new tech can be learned, with enough effort and time.
A potato for every occasion
We learned during the program that there’s so much more to coding, than programming itself. That basic feeling of not knowing enough to do the job is something we will encounter in life on many different ways. But with coding, it’s a day to day business, the confrontation with not knowing. As humans, most of the time we have an option to choose: go bungee jumping for the first time or not. This seems to be the overarching theme of coding, too. There is so much to learn, that every coding challenge is another decision of whether to jump. You never know what you’re going to get. So if you’re prepared to take a challenge, you’ll grow on the fly, and code through it. It will never be the same thing twice, and definitely won’t be as you expected, but it will feel adventurous. I guess what we want to say is that we can choose if we want to live the fear or not. Feeling adventurous ? become developer : choose another profession.
We both had part time jobs when we started Rails Girls. Alina was a growth-hacking trainer, and Sabine was (and still is) a front-end developer at her company. We’ve had to make sacrifices to find time for everything, but we both knew the best way for us to continue our growth as developers was to learn by doing. Actually working on a project for an intense period and lots of hours has caused us to grow exponentially. This is exactly what we wanted and needed when starting a different career path. Working on our project has consolidated a lot of our progress and gave us more confidence in developing and knowing that we can learn if we persevere. We were so humbled to get a chance to do that with Stretchly and Rails Girls.
Talk to each other
Part of our way of overcoming our fears and anxieties was to talk to each other. As a team we are very open about issues we encounter in the project or in our personal lives. So, whenever we were stressed about an issue we discussed it first thing. It helped us to reconsider or get other viewpoints to a code problem or situation. Having mentors, coaches, teammates to rely on has provided us with an environment where we felt comfortable and safe.
Even so, the list of hurdles we encounter as junior developers grows bigger every day. To name a few, this is what we’ve come across:
- Not enough documentation written for our innocent junior dev eyes (it takes hours to sometimes decipher documentation)
- Working with timezones in any code is a huge pain! Just ask Jan (our mentor), Dan (our coach), or Jack (our coach) and they will confirm
- Interview question: What is a DNS? Domain Name System Go figure!
- Junior software-engineer job listing: minimum 3 years of experience
- Corrupting git branch data to a point of no return (queue Phantom of the Opera soundtrack in the background)
Just like we’ve found solutions to most of these, we’re determined to chip at this list one issue at a time, and bungee jump as much as it takes :)
Overall, we had a great smooth time at Rails Girls, with very few hiccups along the way because we were lucky to have our amazing supervisors and mentors. Going forward, I think we’ll find that having a network to rely on will be one of the most effective ways to overcome these struggles. We can only hope that one day we’ll be at a level where we can provide the same type of support for future aspiring devs!