The Ultimate Toolkit for Landing Your First Junior Developer Job
Interested in becoming a web developer? We break down all of the tools you need (other than coding, duh) to land your dream job.
How do you prove job-readiness in the world of web development? It’s a combination of technical skills, projects, and social skills.
“Skill we can teach. We can’t teach attitude.”
- How to interact with colleagues in a work appropriate manner
- How to participate in discussions
- How to create readable written communications
- The mental capacity to learn and develop new skills
- The ability to take constructive criticism
Back-end dev SKILLS
All of these are basic concepts. If you can prove you can apply them to any language you’re set.
- How the internet works.
- Deployment and dev-ops.
- Problem solving & abstraction.
- Logging, profiling and debugging
- How to manipulate APIs, AJAX, JSON
- Database design — Relational & NoSQL
- Source control — branch/PR/merge flows etc
- Principles and patterns of object-oriented & functional design
- Security practices — Encryption, validation, authentication etc
- Testing — Unit, integration and system testing, pair programming, TDD, code review etc
- Programming fundamentals — variables, expressions, statements, functions, conditionals, recursion, iteration, strings, lists, dictionaries, tuples, files, classes, objects, methods, inheritance
Front-end dev SKILLS
- Source control — branch/PR/merge flows etc
- Responsive design — how to design a site to work well on all screen sizes
- CSS Preprocessors — SASS, LESS
- Automation tools — Grunt, gulp
- Development Tools — Chrome & Firefox have a great set of developer tools.
- RESTful services & APIs — This is where front-end starts to interact more heavily with the back-end.
- Cross Browser Development — All browsers process code slightly differently.
Build a portfolio website. On your portfolio website make sure you include your email address, LinkedIn, Github, your projects, and links to any places you share professional opinions on development, like a blog or Twitter account.
This is a great opportunity to show off what cool front-end frippery you can do, and your understanding of design trends and theories.
Portfolio of projects
Put together a portfolio. Don’t have any freelance jobs ready to go yet? Prove you’re capable of taking one on. Some things you can build are a blog, a game, an informative site or a few page tutorial, a calculator, rewrite a popular website in a language it’s not written in now. Constantly keep this updated.
Open source projects
Contribute to an open source project. This shows you understand the value of open source projects to the programming community and also that you can code at an abstract level, as open source projects provide the base for many other projects. It’s a great way to learn new skills and find out what makes the applications you work on tick. You’ll also get the opportunity to work with, and maybe even meet the people on your projects. You’ll also understand how to work with Git on larger projects, an invaluable skill.
Start a blog and write about your experiences learning to code, and developing projects. Create resources for others. Can’t find any documentation or instructions referring to something you accomplished? Write about it. Link to your blog on your portfolio. You might even make it part of it.
Do small freelance projects. Offer to tweak websites or redesign a website for a non-profit. Ask friends & family if they have anything they want done, so you can build experience and prove you can get work done to an external deadline. You may not be able to provide the source code but you sure can link to it.
You might find it useful to add testimonials for your freelance work.
Make your personal project code public on github. If you have to make your code public you’ll think more deeply about how you’re going about it.
Participate in offline communities. For example, Ruby has two monthly meetup in sydney called Ruby on rails Oceania Sydney, and Sydney Ruby. Attend other meetups too. Do you also do web design? Take an interest in information security? Want to become a DBA? Really really like CSS? Meetups exist for that too, and they are easy to find. Companies are often looking for employees with a unique confluence of skills that is just right for them (and for you!). For example, PwC wants accountants who can code.
Why join meetups? You can get to know other Rubyists in industry, and make yourself known to recruiters or others who could refer you. Recruiters often attend meetups so they can keep up with the latest developments in technology.
There are hackathons to attend as well, where you can meet and share knowledge with and network with people from all over the development field, and learn how to apply it to different industries. Just recently in Sydney, there have been hackathons centred on Law, and Space, which we both sponsored.
Always be learning. Programming is a field which is always changing, with new languages and platforms and libraries coming out and changing every day. Keep on top of it, and prove it in your portfolio.
Outstanding domain knowledge and skills outside development.
Do you have skills outside of development? You could use them to get a job which combines those skills with web dev. A small company may prefer hiring someone who understand their industry well.
Practice answering questions
Talk about side projects
This could be you!
Junior developer jobs may be different in tech companies to non-tech companies that just have a tech team.
Requirements are usually more specific for non-tech companies, and you would usually have more responsibility, while in tech companies it would be more useful to have a junior with a broad range of skills.
Regardless, junior developer jobs are usually something small. When you start, your role is to help the rest of the dev team by getting little, but important things out of the way. At this stage you are definitely still learning to code, which means you will be assigned tasks to help you improve your skill and knowledge as a developer.
This means bug-fixing, testing, research, assisting senior developers with harder projects, optimisation & basic organisational tasks assisting project managers and tech leads, writing or integrating third party APIs. Internal tools are another task you would be entrusted with. Mostly you will be watching, reworking, assisting & fixing. As you spend so much time communicating it is important that you have good people skills, and a questioning mindset.
Eventually you’ll move into developing new features (or websites!) when you’ve gained the ability to complete whole tasks without assistance.
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