Leveling up

09 August, 2021

I can proudly say that I am no longer a junior developer and have leveled up. It's been an interesting three years where I have had ups and downs and learnt a ton of things about web development and it's all been worth it to get to this point. I have had some wonderful support from my manager and colleagues to help me become a better developer and also learnt from some hideous mistakes long the way.

I think the key to leveling up from being a junior is having open and honest discussions with your manager and setting realistic goals. When i mean honest conversations i mean honest..like say what is not working for you or if something is difficult as if your manager doesn't know these things they cant help you be the best you can be. Equally if you have a manager or are in an environment that doesn't want to nurture you and welcome honest open discussion then that's a wider question for yourself as to whether it's right or not to stay in that role. I have been lucky and with We Are Tilt Ltd we are all an open and honest bunch of people who can say what needs to be said as long as it is constructive to the project/discussion.

So me and my manager had a back and forth about what works well and what doesn't and drew up a plan of action on things we both agreed upon that can move me to the next level. Surprisingly a lot of these were not heavily technical code knowledge issues, but more on the general admin side of development. Like when debugging an issue have you exhausted all possible avenues before approaching a colleague or when delivering a piece of work have you QA'd the work enough yourself. Slight things that are day to day in the life of a developer. Technical knowledge is something we are always learning about and we discussed what kind of new technologies i would like to work with. I mentioned REACT and Gatsbyjs which I have dabbled with and really enjoy.

So now we had a plan and my manager knew what kind of direction I wanted to go in. It was just time for me to put the work in and show that I can deliver on these actions. I knew I needed to prove myself and got involved in more projects from the initial conception stages and gave my ideas on what can and won't work for the project which had been greatly received. It was long hard work for six months until my midyear review and I think the key was again communication while working on projects and being honest and open about delivering projects and if there have been setbacks etc so people can see that I am being open and transparent, which I think gained me some respect.

During this time I also work personally on developing my own site with Gatsbyjs and also creating personal projects and learning new skills with REACT. Personal development is important as sometimes it's easy to fall into the trap of just working your day job and not investing time in yourself. It's great to learn things and when you work on your own project and see it come to life as something you have built it gives you a feeling of pride and boosts your confidence. Debugging is painful but when an issue is resolved it feels great.

Also working on my own projects taught me some new things that I could bring to my day to day development work and also gave me some great ideas that I could bring to ongoing projects to help solve issues or offer ideas for projects using different tech stacks.

So the mid-year review season arrived and I was all prepared with my notes on how i thought i had done over the last year and also i wrote down examples of where i did well and also not so well. Writing and preparing for a work review is key to being equal in your best and worst cases throughout the year. I had a call with my manager who told me that I have met all my actions and that my colleagues have all spoken well about the achievements that I have made in the last year. This made me feel incredibly valued, as imposter syndrome does hit me pretty hard sometimes and to hear that I am valued not only by colleagues and my manager just made my day.

I think my main advice to all juniors is to keep the dialogue going with your manager and colleagues and voice your concerns early if you have any with a project you are working on or your own personal development as the sooner these are addressed the sooner they can be fixed. Learning in your own time is also important, but remmeber to take some time out for yourself from learning and work as you dont want to burn out.