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3 Skills Every Junior Developer Needs to Succeed

What really is expected of a junior web developer? It’s been over six months since my first day as a junior web developer at BizStream, and I’m here to give you some tips.

After five (somewhat grueling) years of college, the day to finally begin my career as a junior web developer has arrived. In addition to being anxious to get started and build upon the knowledge I’ve gained through college and other self-learning projects, I couldn’t help but have countless questions running through my mind about what this experience would actually be like. Was I prepared enough? What would be expected of me? What level of knowledge did they hope for me to have? These may be similar to the thoughts you have as well.

First Day Expectations

So, the big question…what really is expected of a junior web developer? It’s been over six months since my first day as a junior web developer at BizStream, and I’m here to give you answers to those questions.

Gif with text "Nothing at all. It's amazing"

Okay, maybe not nothing, but starting out, it’s a pretty mutual thought on both sides with not knowing what to expect. It’s no secret that technology is changing daily, and it can be hard to keep up with – especially for someone who is just starting out. While searching for a job, one of my big concerns was that the company would expect me to know more than I actually knew. My ideal company to work for was one that could see my potential, and BizStream was that exact company. 

When I started working at BizStream, I was happy to see how much they were willing to invest in me. My first few weeks on the job focused on giving me a clear understanding of who BizStream is, like the projects they work on, the technologies they use, and the required training. When I finally started getting into development work, they didn’t just throw me into the trenches. They began with paired programming and then moved me to my own tasks. BizStream has always been flexible when I ask for assistance when I get stuck on a problem, and everyone is always willing to extend a helping hand whenever I ask them for help.  

Important Skills to Have

While it wasn’t expected of me to know everything on my first day, I have learned a lot of things in these last few months that I think would have been helpful to know on my first day.

  1. Valuable Technologies and Resources
    The university I attended only offered one web development course besides the basic course of HTML/CSS/JS. This course was my first actual experience of what web development is. This course taught the MEAN (MongoDB, Express, Angular, and NodeJS) Stack. However, while that course gave me a basic understanding of full-stack web development, I quickly learned as a junior developer that there are way more, and (in my opinion) better, stacks out there for developing websites. Based on my experience these past few months, this is the tech stack I would recommend having some knowledge on before your first day as a junior web developer. Don’t feel pressured to know everything about this stack or similar technologies to the ones mentioned in this stack; you’re not expected to.
    1. React – Odds are if you’ve made it to this blog post, you’re aware that React is currently the most sought-after skill for a web developer from a frontend perspective. 
    2. .NET – Earlier, I mentioned I learned the MEAN stack in my first experience with full-stack web development. In that, Express is used as the backend framework. While Express can be an excellent place to start and get your feet wet in the backend space per se, through internships and now my current role, I have discovered that most of the industry uses .NET for its backend tasks, so I highly recommend coming in with knowledge of this.
    3. Azure – These days, you hear a lot about technology moving to the cloud. No, we’re not moving servers to the clouds in the sky – although how cool would that be? Instead, the cloud refers to servers that are accessed through the internet. Azure is a popular cloud computing service that is owned by Microsoft and makes working with the cloud easy to learn and understand.
  2. Documentation Comprehension
    While you’re learning these technologies, you’ll come across many situations where you’ll have to reference some documentation. Coming into my first day on the job with BizStream, understanding documentation was not my strong suit. Instead, I was someone who saw someone doing what I was trying to accomplish. Thus, I would reference YouTube tutorials, Stack Overflow threads, etc.

    While these are still great resources, when it became important for me to start learning more technologies quicker, the best way to do that was by referencing the technology’s documentation. Since documentation is not written to give you the exact solution to every problem you run into, learning to comprehend documentation so that I can translate that into an appropriate solution was a bit of a learning curve for me.

    However, after six months of referencing some documentation almost daily, I can happily report that it’s not much of a challenge for me anymore – it just takes consistent practice, as any newly learned trait does.

  3. Communication and Being Studious

    No matter your job, it’s always important to have good communication skills. Communication allows everyone in the team to be on the same page and work to be completed in the most efficient way possible. From a junior web developer’s point of view, communication will allow you to grow as a developer even quicker.

Meme from Office Space

​As I mentioned earlier in this post, you were hired for your potential. Be transparent about what you know and what you don’t know. Your employer wants to see that you’re willing to learn and put forth the effort to enable you to gain the skills necessary to make yourself and the company successful. When you run into a problem with a task you’re working on and truly feel you’ve tried everything to solve the problem, reach out to someone who can provide you with some help. In my experience, everyone is always happy to help when possible, and if the person you reach out to for help can’t solve it, they will more than likely help you find someone who can give you the answers you’re looking for.

Now Go Crush It!

There you have it, everything you need to know to make yourself a successful junior web developer. Okay, maybe not everything you need to know, but you’re not expected to know everything, remember? At the end of the day, most of us starting a junior web developer role are fresh out of school or some other training that taught us to be a developer. In this role, your job is to mix being a student with being a professional, and sooner than you may realize, you’re going to be in a position where you are the person a junior developer is approaching for advice.

Gif with text "What I'll do at this job"

About the Author

Parker Ovadek

As an athlete, Parker’s first desire was to be in the Sports Management field. However, during his Sophomore year in high school, he found another passion – computers. His hobby of playing video games on a console led him to venture into PC gaming and eventually into building his own machines; he’s been hooked ever since! After high school, Parker earned his degree in Information Systems from Grand Valley State University. Outside of working hours, you’ll most likely find him on a golf course!

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