• Intro #
  • Background #
  • Lessons #
    • Communicate needs and progress #
    • Don't demand too much from yourself #
    • Know what you want #
  • Conclusion #

Intro #

A year has passed since my last post on this blog. For a while, I didn't have anything new to discuss as I wasn't actively working on any new or exciting projects. However, at the end of January 2023 I began working at a small startup as a Junior Frontend Developer. It was, due to a number of reasons I will not delve into, a shortlived experience with me leaving the job near the end of April. Since it was my first ever tech job, I want to discuss my experience and the lessons I learned.

Background #

The company I worked at is called Intelligence22, a small data-management startup which hosts its own data-management platform to measure business and performance metrics for its numerous clients. The dev team at the time consisted of five people, myself included: two backend developers, two data engineers, and myself. I was hired as the sole frontend developer (despite having no prior experience!).

I had a number of tasks to perform which ranged from making the data platform responsive on all devices, wireframing and developing UI components, and fixing bugs. The frontend consisted of a mixture of Vue, HTML, and Blade files. Having no prior experience with Vue, I spent a couple weeks training and familiarising myself with it before I began actively contributing to the team. Given that I had prior React experience, it didn't take too long before I was using Vue in my daily tasks.

Overall, despite the fact that it was a short stint, I would describe it as a positive learning experience -- most notably, I gained self-confidence as a developer. I proved to myself that, as a self-taught developer used to working alone, I am capable of handling my own tasks while still working as part of a team. In addition, I left having gained a better understanding of the sort of demands placed on a developer in the corporate world.

Lessons #

Communicate needs and progress #

This probably goes without saying, but it is something which I only began practising a few weeks after I began developing Vue components and making changes to the UI. As a self-taught developer, I was used to working independently, which meant that I was getting my tasks done but I wasn't necessarily communicating how I was getting along. It was after a meeting with the project manager that I began documenting my daily tasks, my progress, any issues I was having, and when I expected to complete them. Not only did this help my colleagues, it also helped me manage my tasks better and plan my time more effectively.

Don't demand too much from yourself #

As mentioned earlier, this was my first job working as a developer. As a result, I subconsciously placed unneeded pressure on myself. I expected myself to power through the Vue training as quickly as I could so that I could begin contributing sooner. Also, despite reassurance from colleagues that my work was of a good quality, I still had nagging doubts. However, looking back on it, I realise that I was doing just fine. If I could go back, I would tell myself to relax a little because the learning process is a slow one and there will always be things you don't know.

Know what you want #

This is something which I could only learn after having gained some experience in the field. Prior to accepting the job at Intelligence22, I was happy to accept whatever offer came my way. I didn't give much thought to whether I would like to work in a startup or an established company. However, after my experience in my first frontend role, I now have greater clarity with regards to what I expect from my next workplace. For example, I am decided that I will only work for an established company with a sizeable dev team, or at least one which has a senior frontend developer whom I can learn and benefit from. At this moment in my journey, it is not beneficial nor sensible for me to accept a job role where I am the sole frontend developer of a company -- the pressure is not something I am willing to shoulder the burden of nor is such a job role conducive to my growth as a developer.

Conclusion #

Overall, it was a positive first experience working as a junior frontend developer. I left the role not just with greater experience and confidence as a developer but also as a professional. I know what to expect from future job roles and I also know what expectations I have. I can confidently acknowledge that I am better prepared for future frontend developer roles now than I was prior to this experience.