So, you just landed your first software developer gig, or on the job hunt? You’re about to enter a world of exciting challenges, tight deadlines, and, let’s be honest, some long hours.

Here at Propeller-Tech we’ve seen firsthand the pressures developers face, especially in the startup game.  Over the years helping developers find their dream jobs and speaking to Tech Founders and CTOs we’ve learned a bit about what it takes to get off to a good head start.

Here’s the thing:  being a good developer isn’t just about writing code. It’s about working smart and using the right tools to maximize your time and efficiency.  It’s about understanding the importance of collaboration, continuous learning, and, yes, even time management.

Here are some insights that I’ve gleaned from seasoned developers over the years:

1. Git: It’s Not Just Version Control, It’s Collaboration

Forget the image of the lone wolf coder.  In today’s world, collaboration is king.  Git is the industry standard for version control, allowing you to track changes, see who made them, and experiment without fear of breaking the entire codebase.

Think of it as a safety net and a collaboration tool rolled into one.  It allows multiple developers to work on the same codebase simultaneously, merging their changes seamlessly.  And don’t forget about GitHub.  Uploading your code there gives you access to a massive community of developers who can offer feedback and help you learn.  It’s also a great way to showcase your skills to potential employers.

2. Task Managers: Your Project’s Command Center

Software development is a team sport, and task managers are your playbook.  Tools like Jira, Trello, or Asana help you break down complex projects into manageable tasks, track progress, and see who’s working on what.  No more confusion or wasted time trying to figure out where everyone left off.

These tools are especially crucial in startups, where agility and clear communication are essential.  They help keep everyone on the same page, ensuring that projects stay on track and deadlines are met.

3. Time Management: The Developer’s Secret Weapon

60-hour work weeks are not sustainable.  They lead to burnout and ultimately hurt your productivity.  Use tools like Pomodoro timers and task batching to stay focused, prioritize your work, and avoid overworking yourself.

Pomodoro timers encourage you to work in focused bursts, followed by short breaks.  Task batching involves grouping similar tasks together to minimize context switching and maximize efficiency.  These techniques can help you get more done in less time, leaving you with more energy for the things you enjoy outside of work.

4. Automated Testing: Let the Bots Do the Grunt Work

Testing is crucial, but it doesn’t have to be a manual slog.  Automated testing frameworks like Selenium or Jest run tests for you, catching bugs early on and saving you hours of debugging time.

These frameworks allow you to define test cases that run automatically whenever you make changes to your code.  This ensures that your code is always working as expected, reducing the risk of introducing bugs and making the development process much smoother.

5. IDEs: Your Development Powerhouse

Integrated Development Environments (IDEs) are like a Swiss Army knife for developers.  They come packed with tools like automatic code editors, debugging assistance, and other automation features that streamline your workflow and make you a coding machine.  Visual Studio Pro 2022 is a popular choice, but there are many others out there, each with its own strengths and weaknesses.

IDEs can help you write code faster, debug more efficiently, and navigate large codebases with ease.  They often include features like code completion, syntax highlighting, and refactoring tools, all of which can save you significant time and effort.

Beyond the Tools: Advice for Junior Devs from Senior Devs

  • Master Git. It’s not just a nice-to-have, it’s essential for any developer working in a team environment. Learn how to branch, merge, and resolve conflicts effectively.
  • Embrace collaboration. Pair programming, code reviews, and knowledge sharing are invaluable learning opportunities. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and learn from your peers. The more you collaborate, the faster you’ll grow as a developer.  Seek out collaborators who are different to you.
  • Dive deep into your chosen language. Don’t just learn the basics. Understand its nuances, quirks, and best practices. Read books, study code examples, and experiment with different approaches.
  • Write clean, readable code. Think of the developers who will come after you. Make their lives easier by writing code that’s easy to understand and maintain. Use meaningful variable names, write clear comments, and follow established coding conventions.
  • Make refactoring a habit. Regularly cleaning up your code will make it more efficient and easier to work with in the long run. Refactoring involves restructuring your code without changing its functionality, making it more readable, maintainable, and scalable.
  • Never stop learning. The tech world moves fast. Stay up-to-date with the latest trends and technologies by reading books, attending conferences, and experimenting with new tools. The more you learn, the more valuable you’ll become as a developer. There are so many books out there that can help your software game reach the next level.

Remember, your success as a developer depends not just on your technical skills, but also on your ability to work smart, collaborate effectively, and manage your time wisely.  Good luck!

If we can help you find the next step in your career, then please contact us here or reach out to Louise Ogilvy on Linkedin.

Natalie Harper

Author Natalie Harper

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