Starting out as a Junior Software Developer can be challenging, but if you are motivated and results-oriented then 6 months is enough to acquire the necessary skills to get hired at an entry-level role. From then on, it comes down to experience, work ethic, and the will to level up to be able to advance to a senior role in the Software Development space.

Coming out of university, I had a systems admin intense technical background. Every job I got exposed me to different roles which in this day and era is almost very good on paper for any professional looking to blossom their portfolio. As an IT Engineer, I have taken on multiple roles in IT and some were Software Development related. What I’ve learned is, specializing in a particular technical discipline can be a challenge for many practitioners in the IT industry given the current job market.

As a Junior Software Developer, it never gets any easier. In fact, it goes way downhill before it gets better for most Developers. For me, programming was not my strongest capability coming out of university back then. It’s safe to say, I didn’t give it a lot of attention and it didn’t endear itself to me either early on in my career.

Years later, I realized the professional roadmap I has set for myself required a well rounded Tech Engineer portfolio and 1-2 programming skills would be ideal.  I’ve also had a number of struggles improving my development skills as my learning curve is rather steep.

Jack Ma once joked;

“Before you turn 30 years old, follow somebody. Go to a small company. Normally, in a big company, it is good to learn processing; you are part of a big machine. But when you go to a small company, you learn the passion, you learn the dreams. You learn to do a lot of things at one time. So before 30 years old, it’s not which company you go to, it’s which boss you follow. A good boss teaches you differently.” -Quote source: According To Jack Ma, This Is What Your Life Should Be Like Between 20 And 60 Years Old published by Liang Hwei.

The struggles of a junior developer are those most people ignore and often overlook when addressing Software Development issues or even mentoring Junior Software Developers. I’m blessed to have some really good mentors and colleagues during the period I worked as a Junior Software Developer.

Also Read: Reflecting on the 10 commandments of Egoless programming.

Here are my take-aways from working as a Junior Software Developer.

  • Tutorial purgatory is one of the biggest problems in my opinions Junior Software Developers struggle with.  This is when a Software Developer spends more time on tutorials and less time actually doing any Software Development work. I know because I’ve been a culprit. I found this interesting read by Tony Mastrorio on FreeCodeCamp; How to escape tutorial purgatory as a new developer — or at any time in your career, I think all Junior Software Developers should read and one I wish I read when I was starting out.
  • In Software Development working with experienced developers, technologists and visionaries is a great help towards overcoming a lot of difficulties & challenges when starting out. Most Junior Software Developers often struggle accepting this reality. In most cases, it’s because of ego and sometimes due to a lack of proper guidance and mentoring.
  • For any Junior Software Developer, having the right people with positive energy, tolerance and dedication help in the professional growth of a Software Developer in the Software Development space. It’s important to know that learning struggles and tasks execution problems never end.
  • To excel as a Junior Software Developer, you need to stop making excuses & procrastinating. Handle blockers immediately rather than later. It’s important to understand that the problem never really goes away. Rather it feeds into your next day’s tasks, plans and problems for that matter.
  • A lot of Junior Software Developers suffer from the Magpie Syndrome. It’s a situation where one is constantly jumping from one new technology, programming methodologies, or framework to another. This is usually a result of inexperience or little technical knowledge. Therefore a Software Developer ends up trying everything.
  • As a Junior Software Developer learning new technologies, stacks and languages can be a big challenge. Thus, you need to exercise a great deal of patience and have the willingness to listen. If you can’t listen and take constructive criticism then Software Development is not your calling. Also, knowing where to find or seek the right advice and tools is instrumental to a Junior Software Developer’s Professional growth.
  • Communication and teamwork are some of the other challenges Junior Software Developers face. Being able to articulately report on tasks and projects is very important in the career of a Developer at any level. Most importantly, you need to know, understand and align yourself with your team’s collaboration language.
  • Depending on your stack, technology industry and workflow, knowing the right forums, and chat rooms can be very important. Start with Stackoverflow and move on from there.
Developer workstation screen

A typical workstation of a Software Developer.

Also Read: The Artistry of being Hyper-Productive

As a Junior Software Developer looking to carve a path for yourself in the Software development space, try to get into the habit of talking about your conquests and celebrating the small successes too. If possible, teach someone else what you’ve learned or share it in form of technical writing. This reduces the chances of you forgetting what you’ve learned. And it gives you room to learn from others in the networks your build.