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Starting a new developer role: some guidelines.
A few tips to start off on the right foot.
So you had a few interviews, some negative answers maybe, but you finally received an offer, and are about to start your new job.
Arriving in a new company can be a little intimidating, and maybe even more if this new job is your first as a developer.
There are a few things you can do to make these first weeks easier and start to build a great experience.
Learn the business
When you arrive in a new company, whatever your job is, but even more if you are a web developer, the first thing you should do is understand the core business. As a developer, you are going to help build and evolve the core product in the company. During the first week, it is key you get the answers to these questions:
- what does your company sell, and how is the revenue made?
- how does the product you develop play a part in this revenue? Is it the core product, a website to promote it, or an app that is complementary to the core product?
- who are your clients and what are their needs?
- Are the clients part of the company or externals?
- How do your clients use digital services? On which devices?
Answering these questions will help you see the big picture and understand the purpose of your day-to-day operations. It will also help you to interact with other teams within the company like marketing or sales as you will speak the same language.
It is the best way to quickly become a full member of the team and show that your interest goes beyond pure web development stuff.
Complete your skills
You are coming out of a bootcamp or learned stuff by yourself, and you certainly focused on some technologies.
Two things are likely to be sure:
- What you learned will need to be adapted to your new company structure and environment.
- There are some tools your team is using you know nothing or little about. It can be a programming language or a specific tool, like GitLab or Docker.
Of course, if you are in a well-structured team, you will have a co-worker that will teach you everything you need to know to become a valuable member of the team.
But you can make your life easier by reading documentation or watching videos about these tools. The idea here is to understand what they provide, why they are valuable to your team, and their main functionalities.
And when you will start using them or talks about them with your team, you will already have a basic understanding and will be able to ask the right questions to complete your knowledge.
Understand the method
One thing that can be specific to a company is the workflow. You team will tell you what you need to know, and you can look out for information yourself to get the big picture.
You can go to your team’s remote repository and start looking at how branches or commits are named, and if there is a certain pattern.
Your team might also have documentation like a README on how things are done. It might be about the branches they use and how merging is done, or how to install and update the project on your local machine.
You can also ask for the organization in terms of meetings and sprints. Your team can rely on Agile methodologies, but each one has its way to do it. Be sure to know when are the recurrent meetings and what is expected of you during them.
I already talked about it in my article about coding schools, but it’s the same here.
As a part of the team, we bring our skills, and our workforce, but we also bring our personality, and this is usually what makes people like you and want you to stay.
As important as it is that your integration on a work level is successful, don’t underestimate the human part that will make your experience a success.
Take time to get to know your coworkers, where they come from, how long are they in the company, and what is their role. In return you can tell them your story and know each other better.
These small talks can seem like nothing, but it is moments like these, during lunch or coffee break that help create bonds between colleagues.
If you are on a fixed-term contract and looking to stay in the company, it’s pretty sure your personality and ability to get along with the other members of the team will be as important as your capacity to get the job done correctly. People tend to work with a colleague they are enjoying spending time with.
Don’t take feedback personally.
As a developer, and especially as juniors, we are frequently confronted with feedback, in code reviews, or peer-programming sessions.
In addition, we can start this new job with a lack of confidence due to our small experience in these areas.
Those two factors can make it difficult to deal with feedback. Even if those are made with kindness and care, they can be hard to hear and make you more likely to develop imposter syndrome.
If you are conscious of this phenomenon, it is already a good first step to prevent it.
The second thing you can do is to take it lightly. Keep telling yourself that this is normal. Of course, you are making mistakes, but you’re supposed to. You are a junior and making mistakes will allow you to learn from them and improve yourself. It is all part of the process.
Finally, if this is too hard to handle, reach out to a manager or a colleague. She/He must have been through the same difficulties and will be able to reassure you about your level, improvements, and the learning curve you are on.
Ask questions (a lot!)
Be prepared to be quite frequently lost during your team’s conversations or meetings, at least during the first weeks.
It can be about any topic: business, workflow, features… This is perfectly normal, and you have two good reasons to feel lost: you are new in the company, and you are new on the job.
It is crucial that for each question you have in mind, you get a corresponding answer. It is up to you to choose how and when to ask these questions, but keeping them for you will only make your beginning into this role harder.
No manager or co-worker will ever get mad at you for asking too many questions. They might tell you to keep them for a specific time or meeting, but it is in everyone’s best interest if you have all the information you need to do the job.
To sum it up, here are some bits of advice I could give.
Know the business and the product you are working on. It will make your integration easier and your work even more interesting.
Do some quick homework about the technologies and process your team use and you don’t know about.
Connect with others and get to know your colleagues. It helps break the ice and makes job days much more fun.
Feedback can be harsh to handle, but they are a necessary part of your learning path. Positively take them and look to progress.
Ask questions, lots lots lots of questions.
I hope you enjoyed this article. My name is Paul, and I am a Front-End Web Developer. For more articles like that, you can follow me on Twitter and LinkedIn.
See you next time!