Tips and tricks for choosing your first job as a developer
Your time is valuable
Since I started my job in 2018, I had some bad days, but up until this day I love my job. Before I picked this job I had the opportunity to earn more at different companies.
However, I’m glad that I never took on any of those jobs. My current company offered me the chance to discover what I love doing, and this means much more than money. And with this article, I want to help you in picking your perfect job!
Let's start with a subject that looks very important from the start, but which was the least important part of my job-hunt. Keep in mind that I started working after getting my degree, and any amount of money was much more than I was used to earning as a student. I know this is a sensitive topic and depends on your situation, so feel free to choose the money path if this suits your situation.
The reason that I talk about this sensitive subject is that earning money is not the most important part of your life. If the other job had made me unhappy for the past two and a half years, the money would be worthless. Because I had the freedom of learning so much. I discovered many things, including the ability to mentor others, work on public speaking and work on dozens of projects.
I think it's important that developers realise that they should first find out what they want to do before they chase the money. And the way to do this is not choosing the money option at the beginning. It's fine to earn a lot of money, but your first job is where you can learn much about yourself, without a lot of risks. That's why you should pick growth instead of money.
When you're looking for your first job, there are some things that you should be looking for. The first thing is either a clear career path or a training budget that you can use for your personal development. Naturally, this is an investment for the company, so it should be in line with what you will be doing in the company.
If this is not the case, you should stop here. This should be your priority. Remember that you know nothing as a junior developer and that any kind, of course, will be a great addition to your knowledge. It's important to realise that this training budget is an investment, with a much more ROI than a little higher wage.
It's important to find out what the other employees have to say, instead of the one recruiting you. Try to talk with one of the employees of the company to see what the atmosphere's like. This is a real game-changer for me. Everyone should feel like they can share their problems in the company, and there should be a good overall atmosphere.
If you can't talk to any employee in person, ask the recruiter to schedule something with one of the employees, so you can ask your questions to him/her. If this is not possible, you could consider this as a red flag.
As a developer, you learn the most in a team that has at least one more experienced developer. That's why I would always ask about the development process. You want to look for a process that includes code quality checks and code reviews. Those 2 things will improve your overall coding skills and provide a solid base for the start of your career.
Working alone on a project has its benefits too, but this will require a lot of discipline. You always want someone available in the team to ask questions to.
Don't expect everything
One of the most important things is, don't expect to be paid a lot, have all the possible benefits, have an amazing team and have the perfect career path. At the start of your career, you have to prioritise the things you're asking for.
Here's my priority list for every job opportunity.
- Personal development
- Technologies that are being used
- Development process
Also remember that some things require a certain level of experience, education or just consistent hard work. If you never played soccer, you’re most likely not transferring to Real Madrid in the next year. If you never programmed anything, you’re most likely not going to be hired for a software engineering job by Google.
Your time is valuable
If you have 52 weeks in a year, with four weeks of vacation. Working 40 hour work weeks, you’re spending 1920 hours/year working.
That means that about 22% of your year in hours is dedicated to working. Imagine if you hate your job, that means that 22% of every working year is thrown away in the garbage. If you add 7 hours of sleep every night to that, which is about 29% of your year, there’s only 49% time left. 49% of your time to enjoy.
If you can reduce the bad parts to 2% of your work, you will be able to enjoy 71% of your time. This is something to consider when you're changing careers or looking for a new job.
Making sure that you know what you want to find in a job will help you in this process. No job will be perfect and of course, it's not simple to be sure that this job will make you "happy", but if the job description matches your checklist, you certainly have a better chance of finding your perfect job.