You Found the Job! But...
You did it. After hours upon hours of job searching, networking, interviews, and skill-building, you’ve finally landed a job as a junior developer in the tech industry. This is the first step toward a promising career in development, one that could lead to higher-paying roles and creative problem-solving adventures.
However, as to what happens next is unclear. You start asking yourself questions: Will you be able to solve all the tickets and problems that come down your Trello/Jira pipeline? What if they request you to use a technology you haven’t encountered before? If you’re hired for a remote position, and the team operates in a different time zone, how do you make yourself as available and valuable as someone located locally with the team? It can become overwhelming, and you might even start to question, “Am I even cut out for this role?”.
Don’t fret; these feelings are entirely normal and are experienced by almost anyone starting a new role in a different industry. We previously interviewed Ursa’s latest junior developer hire, Brittany Freitas, to learn about her process of finding work as a junior developer and the tools she used to get her foot in the door with us. Now, we’re taking things a step further by asking about her experience working for a tech company as a new hire and how she bolstered her skills to become an integral part of our team.
Getting Acquainted with "Your Role"
As Brittany began her new position, it felt like a mix of butterflies and rainbows combined with a bike crash. While there was genuine excitement, there were also some anxious feelings about what lay ahead. After settling in and familiarizing herself with the technologies used by the Ursa team, Brittany often encountered steep technical learning curves that weren’t covered in her bootcamp. “I needed to adapt quickly to the team’s workflows and the technologies being used,” Brittany explains.
“It also felt like I didn’t belong – not because of the team; Ursa was incredibly supportive of me joining this junior developer role. But this was a whole new line of work compared to my previous role as a social worker, which was vastly different. It felt like I had to learn everything from scratch.”
Brittany almost describes herself as a perfectionist, always wanting to have all the answers or solutions, much like when she was a social worker.
“To be someone’s therapist or worker, you have to have fundamental knowledge,” Brittany adds, “for me, the hardest part was getting over the hump of only having a degree of knowledge but realizing it’s impossible to know everything as a developer.”
Brittany’s statement holds true. She started to treat everything as a learning opportunity. But this is something that isn’t expected to change in the world of being a developer. Technologies are continually evolving and changing, and even the most seasoned developers are always learning. Learning is what makes being a developer so exciting.
Setting Aside Pride
To succeed as a junior developer hire, you need to be open to feedback from your team leads and experienced colleagues. It’s expected that you’ll be mentored and coached into becoming the ideal developer needed within the team.
“I was constantly adapting to feedback,” Brittany says, “I was rethinking all the possible ways something could be improved, learning how to write cleaner code, planning out components, and learning from feedback in PRs (pull requests).”
She further explains that it’s crucial to ask for feedback even when it’s not being given. It’s important to get comfortable to ask questions and note down problems so you can follow up with team members later. Brittany has been grateful to be mentored by Josh Larminay, one of the owners and lead full-stack developers at Ursa Creative.
“I swear, I bug Josh every day,” chuckles Brittany, “but I cannot thank him enough for the supportive feedback and the tasks he’s helped workshop with me to grow into a stronger developer.”
In one of our recent projects for the development of an app aimed at Indigenous Youth, Brittany has been tasked with assisting and building form validation and creating a client search.
“I am now at a space where I feel I am making significant contributions to projects,” Brittany explains, “being junior, it’s exciting to handle your problem solving and implementing a piece into a project that you never thought you would do.”
Remote Work Time Management
Brittany is the first hire of Ursa who has been completely remote. She currently is working from Toronto, Ontario, which is quite the distance from our main office in Victoria, BC. There are some challenges when working remotely, such as not having in-person connections, matching productivity, and isolation, to name a few.
“I have to stay extremely self-motivated,” says Brittany, “working from home can make it extremely difficult to work without distractions. It’s important to set up the space in which you will work your best and keep a routine.”
The time difference between Brittany and the Ursa team is about 3 hours, but she is able to work a dedicated 8 am to 5 pm schedule her time. She has the opportunity to check-in with Josh regularly to monitor her work and ask dedicated questions about her projects. She does stress the importance of time management because of working remotely.
“I can’t delve into every small thing I want to learn more about during the workday. So to help me stay on track, I usually keep a note of things to look into after work or on my time. This has been helpful to remember things I wanted to learn more about.”
Tips for Growth as a Junior Developer
Take on Personal Projects
“With prior connections from my network circles and bootcamp colleagues, I would take on personal projects in my downtime. Although they were mostly freelance and volunteer, they provided me with great practice to enhance my skills outside of work.”
Set Clear Goals
“I am always setting goals to keep myself accountable of progress. This is everything from high-level long-term goals to simple short-term. Some of my current goals I’m working on is trying to become more independent as a developer and understanding core tenets/principles of Vue.js.”
Engage with Developer Communities
“Being connected with other junior and seasoned developers outside of my work has been extremely helpful. I have been keeping in touch with TechTank, a collaborative platform for lots of folks within the technology sector that come together for social events and knowledge sharing.”
Seek Feedback outside of work
“As mentioned previously, I am always seeking feedback. Keeping in constant contact with my work mentor, Josh, allows me to know how I am doing and what I should be doing differently. I am also connected with teachers and alumni from my bootcamp. I share some of my work problems with them to get additional feedback that may provide some creative workarounds. It also gives an opportunity to see what others at my skill level are doing and to also share my success to help others succeed.”
Setting Boundaries & Limits
“Maintaining a clear delineation between work and life has been extremely helpful. Most tech companies encourage teams to finish tasks by any means necessary, such as excessive overtime. This is a very colonized approach that almost glorifies overworking with morale. Ursa Creative has been unique in creating a space that promotes the opposite in making sure all employees have a healthy work-life balance. Here, I take breaks diligently and close my computer at the end of the day and live my life. Whereas my previous job as a support worker, I would work through lunch and often stay past the clock to complete tasks.”
Long Term Goals
We asked Brittany about her long-term goals for her new career as a developer and what she plans on doing to grow, such as becoming a full stack developer.
“I really want to further develop my expertise in the frontend before becoming a full stack developer,” replied Brittany. “It is hard to think about the long-term since I am still junior. I am still testing the waters to know what to specialize in. I want to keep learning and growing with the ability to lead projects on my own. However, because of all the help I received, I truly would love to provide mentorship to juniors at the same level I was while becoming a developer.”