Two Months into My First Software Developer Job



Published01 July 2021at14:29, updated on14 January 2022at14:15

Two Months into My First Software Developer Job cover

Olena Drugalya recently went from being a stay-at-home mom to landing her first software developer job, joining Novatec Consulting as a junior software engineer. Two months into the role, she chats with us about her beginnings, first learnings, and what other people starting their web developer career should expect from the first weeks at the job.

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Congrats on the new life. What projects have you been working on so far?

I’m actually not working on any client-facing projects right now because I’m still in the learning phase. Novatec has a Talent Hub, and every new employee in the software engineering department starts there. We spend a lot of time learning, as the project we will be involved in later require a lot of additional skills and knowledge of languages and frameworks. So, they want to be sure that we know all these things in advance.

What’s the talent hub like?

There are a lot of new developers in the hub: juniors, trainees, students… And we work together on pretty much the same program. We learn back-end, Java, Kotlin and some frameworks, but we also learn front-end tools and frameworks. Then, in the end, we are given a project to do by ourselves, and we present it and show everything that we have learned so far.

Some need two months to complete the program, others need more time. It really depends on the person, but it usually takes no more than six months. We need to deeply understand the concepts and processes, so we can use as much time as we need to learn. They don’t rush us. I really love Novatec’s idea of the talent hub.

Pretty cool, isn’t it? Sounds like a great way to get started.

Yes. I was so happy when they took me in. This was something I was looking for because I don’t have that much experience and they give us the possibility to learn and cooperate with other developers and see what the process of development is really like.

We participate in all the company meetings, as well as in sprints and refinements. So, from the first day, we can see what the other developers are doing and how they manage the development process. We are not taking part in it yet, but we are already aware of what the project looks like from the inside and how people are working on it, and this is a very valuable experience.

What are you finding to be the most challenging part of this learning process?

The most challenging for me probably has been working on a project inside a team. Before this, I was doing everything by myself. So, if I had a project to get done, it was just me doing all the thinking, projecting via framing and coding. Now it’s just a bit different situation.

You have other developers in your team, and the planning of the project takes more time than the coding part itself. That’s because it needs to be divided into small parts, and everyone in your team needs to understand what their task is and what they’re going to do.

And I bet you learned many things as a result.

Yes. I learned how to develop the user story, how to create a ticket, how to cooperate with other developers using GitLab and all these things which I would have never learned by, for example, being a freelancer.

You mentioned you’re learning back-end, and your previous training was in front-end tech. How is going full-stack like?

I was lucky because was able to handle the back-end pretty well because I had some experience with C#. So, Java was not that difficult for me, but still, it took me probably a month to dive deeper into it, to go beyond the basics and learn new stuff. Then it became easier when I started with Kotlin and the various back-end frameworks. The most challenging part was Java itself.

How was the experience of going through the onboarding process? Was there something in particular that positively surprised you?

I was really surprised with it all, as that the onboarding process was really well organised. Everything was on time and there were so many people presented their teams and projects. They were telling us with enthusiasm and happiness, explaining how they were handling things and that they were happy to see us at the company. That was very inspiring and surprising in a positive way.

What advice would you give to others just starting with their web developer career?

For the junior developers who are just starting their web developer career, I think the most valuable advice I could give is: don’t be afraid to ask questions. Everything you want to know, everything you are not sure about, just ask. There are a lot of people who will help you, who will guide you and mentor you.  

In a good software engineering team, they all want you to succeed. That’s the beauty of cooperation. Everyone helps each other out when they are working on a joint project.

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What about work-life balance? Starting a new job can be stressful. How are you doing with it all? Are you working from home, or at the office?

Work-life balance is pretty much on schedule and going well. We’re still working from home remotely, but we can go into the office if we feel like we want to socialize with other colleagues. So, from time to time, we meet at the office. I do like work from home, as that way I don’t have to spend that much time in traffic to go to the office and back.

You were blogging quite a lot before starting your first job as a software developer. How is blogging given how busy you must be? Are your new experiences prompting you to write about new topics?

Yes, it’s difficult now with the content. I know there are a lot of people on Twitter who juggle their work with content creating, family and everything, but it was difficult for me these first two months. It being a new job, and my first software developer job, I wanted to get to know everything, to learn as much as possible. And that didn’t leave too much time for content creation.

So, my blog is still where it was before, but still coming up with ideas. At Novatec we also have the possibility to write blogs, so I will probably think about that as well. I would like to pick up blogging again soon and write about all the new back-end tech I am learning to use, about Java and Kotlin – there are so many topics waiting to be written about.

Check out more of our interviews from our podcast episodes.

For more guidance in your web developer career, make sure to follow Olena on Twitter and LinkedIn and don’t forget to check out her blog and Hashnode activity.

Need more tips on how to find a job in IT? Check out our IT job hunting guide.

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