10 Tips to Junior Programmers: Advice from a self-taught Programmer

December 30th, 2019 by

I have been mentoring new hires for some time now and the most common question that has been asked of me was “What are some of your advice to programmers that are just starting out?” So I realize that It is time I share some.

Over time, I managed to teach myself how to manage my time whilst having a lot of things to work on.

I’ve been in your position too, and now I am here to share with you my experiences.

My Tips to Junior Programmers

1. Don’t shy away from the unknown tasks

Don’t wish that someone would pick the most intimidating task from your board. Always try to pick the ones that are unfamiliar to you because they are the most satisfying task to complete. There will always be someone who will appreciate your accomplishments.

Handling difficult tasks helps you manage your stress levels and will help you take on more complex tasks.

2. Create a habit of making lists

Boost your productivity and reduce the amount of time to think about what to do next. Make a list of things to do. Things I include in my list are the things that announce themselves as in need of repair. It may be as simple as sorting your files, organizing your database connections, or listing of urgent tasks for the day.

Whenever I pair with new hires, I tend to show them how to create a list of tasks based on the level of importance and order them chronologically. Crossing out items on your list will also give you a sense of accomplishment.

3. The working code does not equal to good code!

Just because it works doesn’t mean the quality is good. Don’t be defensive during code reviews and peer reviews. Learn how to accept criticism, write codes that are readable and concise.

4. Maintain quality of code

Before writing code, always clarify the requirements and write all possible scenarios that could happen. Write comprehensive test cases. Consider all happy and sad cases and always review your code. Don’t be afraid of showing your code to others. If they couldn’t understand what your codes does, I highly recommend to further refactor your code.

5. Slow down and think before you code

Don’t be a burden to others by writing codes that are hard to maintain. Think about the use cases and slowly walk through the solution.

Always ask yourself, “Does my code cover all the use cases provided by the client? Don’t rush your coding just for the sake of completion, remember, haste makes wastes.

6. Stop thinking that you are the best

When you are just starting out, no one expects you to be the best. Avoid the phrases “I have not accomplished a thing.” when in reality, you have completed many tasks, so menial that no one would like to take on. Continue feeding your ego will hurt you more than your coding skills.

7. Identify your learning style.

Learn how you can digest knowledge more efficiently. Is it by visual, auditory? learning from senior developers with lots of experience?

We are in a world wherein a new framework, libraries come out of the market every month so mastering the technique to learn fast is a valuable skill. You can try answering the Honey and Mumford: Learning Styles Questionnaire. 

8. As much as possible, try to work independently!

It is okay to ask some questions but ask sparingly. Be considerate to your teammates as they also have other tasks they should do.  Try to search for the solution first in StackOverflow, Google or books available.

Well, it is demotivating to work longer hours on something, it is worth the struggle figuring out the solution. When it is too much to handle already, do not hesitate to ask for help.

9. Compare yourself only to yourself.

Do not compare yourself to others early in your career. You have just started out and still have lots of stuff to know. Do not compare your progress to someone else’s, instead only compare yourself to your previous you and find ways to improve yourself.

Just because it took longer doesn’t mean you failed. Remember, everyone has their own pace!

10. Look back to where you started

We all have reasons why we take on a programming job that is mind consuming. Whether you love to code, the pay is profitable, or you want to be more productive. Treasure that reason, nothing is easy in programming, and cherishing that may help you get through frustrations.


Keep in touch

That’s all! I hope you learned something new. Should there be items that I missed? comment down below! I would be more willing to enlighten you.

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