Rookie – ‘Your first days on the job’ tips

Everybody is lost on their first days on the job. Even the most senior programmer I know, who changed tons of jobs (because they weren't challenging enough) and was in charge of many developers in his own firm, said he always feels like an imposter on his first few days. It's harder if it's your first programming job ever because you have no idea what to expect and you usually feel you don't know enough about this job.

That's why I compiled a list of tips, so it will be easier for you. Those tips are my personal opinion gathered by experience. They are suitable only for rookies - after you gain some experience, you'll make your own list.

1. HAVE A 'ABOUT MY JOB FILE'

There will be a lot of information in a very short time and there's a good chance you will forget at least some of those.

If you don't want to keep asking what are all the things, you need to do when starting a new project or where are all the images for the webpage, how to connect to FTP, or which user do you use for testing purposes on some login page, you should write them down. And the thing you have always on your hand is your computer, so it's better to have a file than use a notebook.

+ that way, no one needs to know, you still don't remember something by heart.

2. USE THE SAME TECHNOLOGIES AS YOUR COWORKERS

At home, I use Linux. To my surprise, when I started my first job, everybody there used Windows. I haven't touched Windows for so long, I barely know how to change desktop background, so my new coworkers convinced me to use Linux. I am not a power user of it and when I was trying to set it up, I was lucky that my favorite coworker, who also used Linux, helped me and it seemed like a good decision at that time.

AND THAN, SHE QUIT!

And after she left, I had no one to ask - some things I learned to do on my own, but some things I never dared to touch. So, if you expect you're gonna need help with setting things up, use something that people around you will be able to help with.

3. GOOGLE IT FIRST

You're junior, you're working on projects you never saw before and you're not familiar with the workflow. There is no shame in asking.

But, if you ask someone a question and they will google it and find the answer you were looking for in the top 3 search results, they will think you're a lazy idiot. And if it will happen often, you will gain a bad reputation.

So, when you run into a problem:

  • understand what it is
  • google it
  • try the solutions you find
  • go ask your mentor and you should form your question like this: 'I have this and this problem, I tried those and those solutions, I think it might be that, but I'm not sure how to fix it.'

4. DO SOMETHING OBVIOUS FIRST

You are not yet familiar with the workflow, so you have a high chance you forgot something. Either you didn't start the compiler for Less, you might be changing the wrong file, you forgot to import it...

I had many cases, that doing something obvious saved me time. Maybe something didn't have the correct height and I found that by applying 'border: 5px red solid'. Maybe JS wasn't imported correctly or the JS for loop didn't have the correct condition. I found both problems by 'console.log(it's working!)'. In templates, I always first dump the data.

Once I was editing the wrong project (it was an old version of the same project, the new one had a different name) and it saved me a lot of time because I found it weird that I can't change the background color of the body.

5. TEST IT

If the project you're working on has tests, run them. If you did some front-end work, open it in more than one browser, and open your preferred mobile-simulator to see how it looks on different screens. If you think your work might have an impact on other parts of the project, check that.

If your work is reliable and you catch most mistakes on your own, your coworkers, project managers, and bosses will trust you. And you get that by checking your work thoroughly.

6. PUT IN SOME EFFORT WITH YOUR COWORKERS

When I first started my job, all the girls at work were smokers. I'm not, but I went on the smoke breaks with them anyway. And I got a crew; everyone knew that girls at that firm stick together.

BUT, because I had that girl's crew, I didn't connect with other (male) developers. And one by one, girls left and there was no crew anymore. And I was left amidst the programmers, that had jokes of their own and I didn't fit in.

So, try to be friendly. You don't need to become their best friend, you don't need to see them after work, but take a coffee break with them and if they order pizza once a week, join them, even if you're timid and don't like pizza (That's stupid, who doesn't like pizza :p)

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