Don't be a Junior Developer

Andrei Neagoie

Don’t sell yourself short.

Seriously, don’t be a junior developer. A junior developer puts this title in their resume, emails, and LinkedIn… They pronounce it to the world. Don’t.

When you do that, this is what recruiters and companies see: “Hi, I’m desperately looking to get hired as a developer. I’m still new at this, but can you please please please place a bet on me and hope that I turn out to be an asset and not a liability for your company. Oh, and I’m also going to need a lot of help from your staff for the first 6 months!”

But, I AM a junior developer!… you say. If that is the case, then you will have better long term success if you focus on improving your skills to become an intermediate developer. Only then, you should start applying to jobs. Dedicate yourself full time on learning proper skills. This way, you don’t pigeonhole yourself to the “junior” developer role that you brand yourself as. Remember, first impressions are important. By getting hired as a junior developer, you will have to spend a longer time getting out of that role than if you would have, if you spent a little more time getting comfortable calling yourself an intermediate developer and getting hired into that role right away.

But when would I know when I’m not a junior developer?…you say. You won’t. You will always feel like you don’t know enough. You will always feel like others are smarter than you. This is called imposter’s syndrome. It’s normal and every developer feels it. But here is a simple test for web developers: Can you explain to your family members how the internet works? How a computer works? How websites work? Do you have a basic understanding of HTML, CSS and Javascript so you can build your own websites? Do you know a little bit of React? Have you built a few projects on your own on Github and you are comfortable putting up websites and apps online? Good, then you are not a junior developer.

But I need a job right now! say. Stop that short term thinking. Unless your job involves you working with really smart people that you can learn from every day, on technologies that are relevant and current (few junior developer roles offer you this), your time would be better invested learning skills to get out of the junior mindset. Long term, you will earn more money, be with better developer teams, and you will be more likely to work for a company that teaches and let’s you work with up to date technologies every day. Don’t work on updating a Wordpress plugin as the resident junior developer of a law firm. That won’t help you long term.

If you apply for junior developer roles, the best case scenario: You become a junior developer.

If you apply for intermediate developer roles, the best case scenario: You become an intermediate developer.

Don’t sell yourself short.

Ok, great pep talk Andrei, but I still have no idea what I’m doing. I’m definitely still a junior developer!…you say. Fair point. That's why I created The Complete Junior to Senior Web Developer Roadmap, the ultimate resource to get people out of the “junior mindset”. The best way to do that is to understand the whole developer eco system on the web and even the selective knowledge known by only senior developers. This course will include things that nobody teaches you in one go or you can only find fragmented, vague and outdated tutorials online on. Here are the topics I cover:

  • SSH
  • Linux Servers
  • Performance (from minimizing DOM updates to Load Balancing)
  • Security
  • State Management
  • AWS lambda and other server-less architectures
  • Typescript
  • Server Side vs Single Page Applications
  • Testing
  • Docker
  • Sessions with JWT
  • Redis
  • Progressive Web Apps
  • Continuous Integration/ Continuous Delivery

These are the topics that will make sure you are not a junior developer. The course is focused on connecting the dots between all of these so that the next time you are in an interview, you can speak intelligently about current tactics for building projects, architecture, and setting up developer environments. It is the successor to my learn to code in 2020 course.

Check out Part 2 of this article where I go through each one of the above topics.

If you take away one thing from this article…

Stop calling yourself a junior developer. Have a junior developer mindset where you are constantly looking to learn from others, but never settle for a junior developer role. Apply for roles for which you are under qualified not overqualified. Remember that if you never ask the answer will always be no.

Don’t overestimate the world and underestimate yourself. You are better than you think.

Thank you for reading this far. If you enjoyed this post and want to get more like it in the future, subscribe below. By joining the ZTM community of over 100,000 developers you’ll receive Web Developer Monthly (the fastest growing monthly newsletter for developers) and other exclusive ZTM posts, opportunities and offers.

By the way, my full time job is to teach people to code in the most efficient way possible as the Lead Instructor of Zero To Mastery Academy. You can see a few of my courses below or see all of my courses by visiting the courses page.

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