by Indrek Lasn

Here’s what you need to know as a new developer

Hackathon I recently went to

If you’ve started to learn programming and have decided to get serious — or you’re fresh out of school with no job experience — this is the perfect article for you.

Note: This article was published originally at — please give some love to the original! ❤

Here's what you need to know as a new developer
If you've started to learn programming and have decided to get serious - or you're fresh out of school with no job…

I will address key points and hidden truths I’ve accumulated over time working as a developer.

It’s not you — Coding is difficult

No one said coding was easy — if it was easy, everyone would be doing it. If you can code on a basic level — congratulations! You are in a club with very few members.

We all have been there facing a new road — no matter the subject. A senior developer is a junior developer who never gave up. A Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt is a white belt who never gave up.

Embracing what you’re doing is difficult and very few can do it — so enjoy and have fun with it!

“person's hand burst out of box holding assorted-color pens” by Lucas Sankey on Unsplash

A river cuts through rock, not because of its power, but because of its persistence.

Persistence, persistence, persistence! I can’t stress this enough. Find what you love doing and stick with it.

The universal truth to mastering skills is simple: keep doing it and never give up. It’s completely natural and human to feel burned out, stressed or lethargic. But never — ever — give up…unless you really want to.

Learning to code on a very basic level can take years, and many more to become prolific. Keep learning, coding and reading every day — at least 1 hour. Make it a part of your life and habits.

Make friends and find mentors

Me with coders at a hackathon (sorry for the blurry image!)

The coding road is hard — and it’s almost impossible alone. Find people you like and get together. Easier said than done, I know. The trick to this is going to gatherings aimed primarily at developers.

Find a meetup near you and join it. I literally just go to random events and explore as much as possible. A great way to do that is to check out meetup, type your location and interests, and voilà! You have tons of events in front of you. Meeting new people might be out of your comfort zone. It’s not as intuitive for everyone, but you’d be surprised how friendly the developer community is.

Find balance in life and outside of coding; study smarter not harder

Brazilian jiu jitsu dojo at Zürich (DM me on Twitter if you want to join — it’s hella fun!)

“Study smarter not harder” might be a cliche, but it’s also a truism — for a good reason. Having hobbies outside of coding has helped me tremendously with my career and personal life. Whenever I feel frustrated and tired of coding, I hit up my local dojo and train. After training, I feel super refreshed and ready to go back at it.

Just do it mentally

“greyscale photo of DO What You Love signage” by Jason Leung on Unsplash

Just do it, literally. Don’t find excuses, don’t back down — just do it! I find myself hard to motivate at times, but whenever I started cracking and chipping at the problem, I get in the groove. Coding is a lot like surfing — you need to motivate yourself to catch a wave, but once you’ve caught one, it’s a high like no other.

If you have no idea where to start, I got you covered! I prepared lists of ideas just for you to start doing. Pick one and do it! I’m curious to see the results via twitter or in the comments.

Master the day

Master the day

There’s an ocean of information out there, it’s impossible to remember it all. Take it one day at a time. Slow down, and concentrate — like really concentrate. Think about the problem, think about the approaches to coding and then start coding. The hardest part of coding is thinking deeply about the problem you’re solving and planning how to solve it. Good planning and thinking will shave off years and save you quite a bit of time.

My favorite trick is; when I’m finished with my day and ready to fall asleep — I list all the concepts I learned today and try to remember and repeat them. This helps to cement the material.

Getting your foot in the door

Photo by Loverna Journey on Unsplash

Finding a job as a new developer can be extremely frustrating. Most companies want seniors because they think their problems are unique, but it’s often not true. There’s a huge shortage for seniors because…as you guessed it, everyone wants a senior.

On the other hand, not a lot of companies are willing to train juniors to become competent due to fear of “talent flowing out”. In simple words, training a junior requires time and investment, and a lot of companies are not willing to do that. If you do manage to find a company that trains juniors, you’ve found a great company.

I would recommend finding an internship, preferably a paid internship. I’ve seen many internships grow into prosperous relationships and employment.

Don’t be afraid to be the intern. No one should abuse you or humiliate you. I always treat my interns on the same level as full-time seniors — no matter who you are, you’re still one of us. If a company mistreats its interns, find a new one that treats you with respect and lets you grow.

Also, internships show what the day to day life looks like for a developer. Having access to this information can be life changing since you get to decide if this is something you truly want. You still have time to pivot if you don’t like it.

So there you go folks. To capture the message:

  • Coding is hard… but do it every day and never give up. A senior dev is a junior dev who never gave up.
  • Find mentors and friends. It’s a lot more fun together.
  • Find hobbies outside of coding to “recharge your batteries”
  • Find an internship to get your feet wet
  • Keep it positive and have fun with it!

Now off you go and fly!

Thanks for reading and I hope you learned something. Feel free to reach out to me with questions or show your progress.

Indrek Lasn (@lasnindrek) | Twitter
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