What to Expect In Your First Junior Web Developer Job

man learning to code

You’re interested in coding—but what is it really like to be a professional developer? What can you expect from your first week on the job? If you’ve done some research into the field or taken a coding boot camp, you probably have a good sense of what to expect when you begin your first junior web developer job

That said, there can be misconceptions around what is expected from a junior web developer. Fortunately, most businesses expect their junior developers to collaborate in teams and ask questions while still learning.

The first three or so months in a junior web developer role are about learning: learning how the team works, learning how to conduct yourself in meetings, learning how the codebase is constructed. Below, we’ve outlined what else to expect during this exciting time:

1) Onboarding Process

Applications that companies build are often complex, and simply getting them up and running on your work computer can be a challenge. As a junior web developer, you will not only need to install the programming language on your computer, but it’s also likely that you’ll have to install different databases and services on your device.

To aid this process, companies will give you access to the codebase on GitHub. Your task: get the program to operate successfully on your computer.

It can take up to a few days to accomplish this. Typically, the team will allow a new junior web developer to take a crack at setting things up on their own. Of course, if things take longer than anticipated, senior developers on the team will likely check in to ask you if you need help.

If you ever run into problems and you cannot find the solution on your own, or feel like you’ve been stuck trying to accomplish the same task for a while, you should ask for help. The other developers on your team are there to help you out.

2) Daily Standup Meetings

Development teams that practice agile methodologies (that’s most companies) hold a short meeting at the beginning of every workday. In that meeting—called standup—web developers typically stand in a circle, with each one giving a brief (30-second to 1-minute) update to the rest of the team. In this meeting, you’ll explain:

  • What you worked on the previous today
  • What you plan to work on today
  • If anything is stopping you from getting your responsibilities done

Since the entire team is present at standup, updates should be brief. After the meeting, the full team often breaks off into smaller groups to discuss specific issues.

For example, a developer who builds a particular feature may want to talk to a developer who has been tasked with modifying that feature because he or she can provide insight the other developer might not yet possess.

3) Your Very First Junior Web Developer Assignment

The next task usually assigned to a junior developer is to complete a few small bug fixes. Initially, the bug fixes will be pretty simple to solve, for example:

  • Typos on landing pages
  • Fixes that only involve 1-5 lines of code

Once you’ve made a simple change to the application, your code will undergo the same review process applied to every other team member’s code. Typically, another developer will go line-by-line through the changes, making comments regarding efficiencies, improvements and potential problems that could arise from the change.

Having your code reviewed ensures that even if you do ship bugged code, you’re not solely responsible for the problem. The other developer, who signed off on the code, assumes partial responsibility for the bug as well.

If you’re working at a small company, you can expect to see your first contributions go live within a week. For junior developers at a bigger company, it can take a month or more for your first changes to be shipped for the world to see.

Over time, the team will gradually ramp up the complexity of the features you’re expected to build.

4) Pairing Up With Senior Web Developers

In the first week of your junior web developer job, you’ll likely participate in pair programming with a senior developer working on a complex feature. Typically, this involves the senior developer sitting in front of the keyboard and typing out code while you watch the code they type. As they code, you can point out potential problems with their code (like typos) and ask questions about why they’re doing certain things.

5) Your First Agile Sprint

Most development teams plan out which developer is going to work on which feature either once a week, or once every couple of weeks. This process is generally called “sprint planning.” As a junior developer, you will attend these meetings and learn the process.

The process usually looks something like this:

First, the features, bug fixes and pieces of work are “pulled in” or selected to be completed within a set number of working days (called a sprint).

Then, the development team goes through each of the items and assigns a developer to each ticket, laying out the responsibility for getting every ticket done.

Senior developers will generally push the junior developers to be responsible for the smaller, less complex tickets in the sprint. As the weeks go by, the changes you are assigned will slowly ramp up in complexity.

Some ambitious junior developers will quickly tire of the gradual increase in complexity. But, because anyone can volunteer for any ticket, junior developers can always ask for a ticket outside their comfort zone.

If a junior developer volunteers for a very complicated ticket that must be finished quickly, it will likely be reassigned to a more senior web developer to ensure it’s done quickly and correctly.

If the time frame for the feature is not as pressing, the junior developer will generally be assigned to work on the ticket. However, it’s not uncommon for two or three months to pass before the developer starts working on more complicated issues – these issues are sometimes “epics” (known as bodies of work that are too large to be completed in a single interaction).

6) Building Trust With Your Team

The first few weeks of your first job will probably feel a little overwhelming as you will be learning important junior web developer skills, like how to work on a team that professionally codes 40 hours a week. This involves understanding the different relationships and meetings, figuring out which senior developers enjoy pair programming (and which do not) and just being part of a team.

The members of your team will have likely established strong relationships with one another, and becoming a successful member will require building relationships with others.

Usually, after a month or so, most junior developers developers get in the swing of things and their day-to-day experience gets a lot easier. Remember, when you start out as a junior web developer, you’re not expected to have all the answers—so try not to act like it. Get comfortable being vulnerable and honest and going outside your comfort zone.

If you think you’re in a position where you’re able to break problems down and contribute to a team, you’ll be able to hit the ground running from day one and start putting yourself out there.

You may also be interested in our previous blog post How to Become a Web Developer and Land Your First Job in 8 Steps (Guide).

 

Learn More

Are you new to coding? Explore The Online Coding Boot Camp at UCLA Extension, designed to prepare you for your first junior web developer job. Get ready to learn to code online!

 

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