Don't be a Junior Developer

Andrei Neagoie

Andrei Neagoie

Last updated: May 14th, 2021

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 announce 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 should you start applying to jobs. Dedicate yourself full-time to 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 spent a little more time getting comfortable calling yourself an intermediate developer and getting hired into that role right away.

But how do 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 impostor 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 to the point that 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 are comfortable putting websites and apps online? Good, then you are not a junior developer.

But I need a job right now!... you 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) then your time would be better invested learning skills to get out of the junior mindset. Long term, you will earn more money, be working with better developer teams, and you will be more likely to work for a company that teaches you 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 ecosystem on the web and even the selective knowledge known by only senior developers. This course teaches you the things that nobody else teaches you in one go. At best, you could learn fragmented parts of what I'll teach you from vague and outdated tutorials online.

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 follow-up course to my complete web developer bootcamp.

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 which means you are constantly looking to learn from others and improve, but never settle for a junior developer role. Apply for roles for which you are underqualified, not overqualified. Remember that if you never ask (or in this case, never apply to the intermediate role), the answer will always be no.

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

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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