7 Unspoken Advantages of Being a New Developer

For beginner developers who feel far behind

Teaching yourself how to code, and become a developer, is tough. (The people who say it is easy are lying.)

It’s normal to feel frustrated, overwhelmed, and out of touch.

A common concern I hear from many (different occupations, countries, genders, ages, and so on) is the feeling of being far behind:

  • “I can’t catch up.”
  • “I’m not ‘ready’ yet for a job…”
  • “I’m not learning fast enough.”

I have to admit…I am getting a bit tired of all this negativity.

Instead, I want to focus on positives, or advantages, of being a newcomer to the world of web development.

Everyone Feels Like They Don’t Know ‘Enough’

I want to start by telling you a story about my dad:

My father has always been very intelligent. He knows a lot about everything. He graduated high school at 16 years old, scored close to perfect on the SAT (yes, both math and verbal), went on to study physics in college, and finally got a Master’s degree in Computer Science. (In the ‘80s, and much has changed since.)

He’s worked at various companies and government institutions. He’s always been a “computer guy” — or as some co-workers once called him, “the scientist”.

You get the point. He’s a smart guy.

Anyway:

When I first began teaching myself all these foreign “computer skills”, I remember telling him (more like complaining) how I had sooooooo much to learn:

  • “I feel so out of place.”
  • “I could never learn ____ AND ____.”
  • “Maybe if I had exposure earlier on…”
  • “Why did you allow me to go to a liberal arts college?”
  • “Why bother when I am so far behind?”

My dad’s response to my fears? He laughed. (He doesn’t smile often, so it’s memorable when he does.)

Then he said, “Every day I feel like I don’t know ‘enough’.”

Huh?

He went on:

  • He constantly feels “behind”.
  • He gets into conversations and sometimes has no idea what is going on.
  • He hears about new languages and technologies he “should” be learning and/or using (but isn’t).
  • People look at him, surprised, when he asks clarification questions.

And I’ll never forget this:

He said, “Sometimes I feel ‘dumb’.”

What? The smartest person I have ever met feels dumb sometimes?

My point is that everyone, beginner or advanced, feels inadequate at times. We all have moments of self-doubt. We just don’t all talk about it.

And if you’re just starting out, and ever feel this way, you’re far from alone. But rather than focusing on the downsides to being a newcomer — let’s look at the upsides.

7 Advantages of Being a “Newbie”

Before I get into the advantages, I just want to say that without a doubt a person who has been programming for ten or even five years has certain experience and insights that a beginner can’t possibly have.

You can’t “catch up”, per se.

But you can recognize your advantages, and use them.

1. Junior devs work to prove themselves

Avi Flombaum, Dean of the Flatiron School, says:

“Junior devs on the other hand, are hungry. They want to prove themselves and are eager to learn. And assuming you’re fostering the right culture, are excited to be part of your team.”

While junior developers want to prove themselves, senior devs are highly intelligent…but tough to rally.

One of my favorite explanations on this comes from Jason Calacanis. In his show (during a reading for Pager Duty) he often compares rounding up engineers or developers to “herding cats.”

Enough said.

(…I know, I am a creepy fan girl for knowing exact words he uses during sponsor spots. Whatever.)

2. Juniors are eager, seniors are bored

This ties into my first point — junior developers have a world of new things to experience, are eager to see it all, and want to find new ways to solve problems.

Senior developers, due to their experience in the field, are not as interested in finding new ways to solve problems.

Put simply, a project that a junior developer relishes may be too small for a senior developer to want to focus on.

3. Senior devs may be more likely to have bad habits

Due to that boredom senior developers may have with projects, they’re more likely to have bad habits in their work philosophy.

In an article on Elegant Code,

“With a junior developer, you can easily mold them into the kind of developer you want them to be. They haven’t really had a lot of time to pick up bad habits, and they are eager to prove that they belong at your company so they will be very eager to learn and improve.”

It goes without saying: bad habits are undesirable.

4. Senior devs tough to find, hard to integrate

Perhaps worse than possible bad habits — senior developers are tough to find. And when you do find them, may not gel well into existing teams.

A junior developer, on the other hand, is more flexible to joining a team and can grow into a capable senior developer with good training.

5. Juniors can be trained into great senior devs

Good training can turn an eager newbie into a great developer, and for most businesses, that’s a good investment.

After finding a junior developer who will work well with the team, it’s very rewarding for managers to build up this person into a great senior developer with staying power, as opposed to other developers that may come and go from the team.

6. Senior devs’ stock will only increase

The demand for the “best” senior developers is great, and will continue to grow — demand is on the side of the developer, not the company.

As a junior developer who will one day become a senior developer in an organization that will train you well, it’s important to keep in mind that you will get that power in the future.

7. Senior devs are much more expensive

And finally, the most obvious advantage:

A senior developer’s salary is approximately double that of a junior developer.

It’s not like junior devs are making pennies, either. According to Glassdoor, as of 201, a junior developer’s average salary is $60,930.

Senior devs come with a higher price tag due to experience and their relative scarcity. (It’s all economics, baby.)

Looking ahead: realize that one day you’ll be that senior developer who is in high demand.

In The End: Stop Comparing Yourself to Others

It’s easier said than done, I know.

But you can’t compare yourself to someone who has been doing whatever you’re doing two, three, four or even five times longer than you have. It’s simply not fair.

Remember that learning how to build applications is really freaking hard.

If it were easy, everyone would be doing it.

So stop putting unrealistic pressure on yourself and your capabilities.

Take the first steps, ask questions, and don’t be afraid to look silly for asking a question.

The best people out there are like my dad — they are able to admit that they don’t know everything about everything.

And always remember that you’re in good company — every senior developer started as a beginner, just like you.

Even better?

There are lots of beginners over at learntocodewith.me who can help support you as you begin, or continue, your journey. Come say hi ☺

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