Advice for JR software developers

Back in 2007, I went to work for a startup company. It was my first job in IT. I did everything from desktop support, software development, and server maintenance. After a year and a half, I decided to leave this company so I can focus more on software development. In this post, I want to share tips on how to find great companies where developers can grow and advance their careers.

Find a Mentor
When you are starting your career as a software developer, there are many questions on how to do your job. What tools to use? What process to follow? How to write clean code? All of these questions can be answered with the help of a mentor. When I joined PrintPlace back in 2007, the company was in rapid growth mode. There was not much time to train or develop people. After my first year with the company, I knew that I needed to find a company where I can have access to mentors. I was fortunate enough to work with the CTO of the company. After PrintPlace, I joined Ristken, a software company that specialized in the auto industry. The IT group was made up of 10 developers, 3 QA, and IT director. In this company, I was able to work with the software architect and learned a great deal about software development. He was a very patient person that had the heart of a teacher. I also learned from the other developers in the company. Many came from different countries and that made conversations interesting. In addition to these mentors, I also watched youtube videos on software development. This is where I found my online mentor, Scott Hanselman. Before Scott joined Microsoft, he works at a bank. He shares valuable info thru his blog and podcast.

I’m not a big fan of the title of JR developers. I prefer software developers. When it comes to promotions, you have to find companies where you can develop your skills and grow. Ask other developers in your team when was the last time they were promoted. In a healthy organization, promotions have to be open within the organization. Let me explain this point. If the company needs to hire a senior developer, do they look within or they go outside to find that talent. Make sure you see a path to go from JR developer to mid-level and then to senior developer / architect. If you are in a small company, there might be less opportunity to advance your career. You might have to look at a mid size company with a good track record of promoting within.

In this career, you have to always be learning something new. Technology that does not advance, it’s technology that stays behind. Nowadays I’m seeing entertainment services moving to on-demand streaming. With this change, there will be less demand on DVD players for example. Is redbox going to stay competitive with their business model? We, as software developers, face the same challenge. We have to stay relevant with current technology changes. Currently Cloud and DevOps come to mind. If you have experience with cloud computing, your skills are in high demand.

See you next week.