Keep working hard! It will all be worth it!
First day as a junior developer, I am so proudly taking out my notebook, scribbling down as quick as possible my to-do list from Jo, my new boss. Next months are all about video courses on Udemy:
- Front end development with AngularJS
- Back end development with NodeJS
Smoke out of my ears after long days at work. But hanging in there, and almost weirdly enjoying every part of it.
A few months later, the company succeeded to raise money and I finally got hired as a full stack developer. From that point on, I got more responsibilities on the core product and was able to apply what I had been learning for the last six months. Day after day, I was excited to dive deeper into the real world of engineering and high tech ecosystem.
As a surprise to all of us, Jo took the decision to leave the company for personal reasons. I tried to convince him to stay: he was my mentor and as the CTO, a pillar to our small company. In full honesty, Jo’s departure put a big strain on the team. We needed him! I strongly believe that everything in life happens for a good reason, so I decided: no mourning, I will have to view this sad event as a positive challenging experience instead.
Reflecting on this today, I can see how Jo’s departure ended up being such a great opportunity for me. I had become the only technical employee with all the product development process falling on me. I quickly realized I had taken a bad habit of asking Jo directly for help when I couldn’t successfully accomplish one task.
I can tell you, dear reader, that through this experience I have acquired skills that I believe essential to every developer:
- Online investigation: tracking down this information you need to complete the feature you working on, or to debug your code.
- Communication: reaching out to the community, participating in meetups, etc…
- Curiosity & constant self-learning: I subscribed to many newsletters about web technologies, such as Sitepoint and Scotch.io. These included access to tutorials, articles, courses — the best source for learning material. I also signed up for a specialization on Coursera — given by the Hong Kong University — with a focus on the MEAN stack. I highly recommend it, very complete and well explained. I completed this course in 5 months and even got a raise on my salary!
If you are a beginner in your developer career, my advice for you: push yourself hard, and resolve problems on your own. I remember this one time I stayed stuck on one bug for almost three days. I ended up finding the solution on my own, and trust me I will never forget the trick!
Long story short, I worked at this startup as the technical lead for almost two years and gained very valuable experience. I led many pilots including one for a big French company, that ended up being very successful. I was in charge of hiring and managing the developer interns. I also contributed to a company important milestone: integrating Docker to our product. This was a really challenging task to implement due to the lack of available online documentation, but I managed to complete it successfully. After these 2 years, I decided to resign from this job, as I felt my experience was done, and was ready for my next challenge.