Congratulations on landing your first job as a software developer! Although this is definitely a personal achievement, and you’ve invested thousands of hours learning, the most exciting moments of your career journey are yet to happen. But, on the other hand, the challenging moments are also just beginning.

Working in a bespoke software development company with more than a hundred devoted and experienced IT professionals shows me on a daily basis that loving what you do is the key to a successful career. Being part of a passionate team also helps to keep the motivation and productivity high during stressful times. Without further ado, let’s find out the top five important tips for beginner programmers.

Become a Problem-Solver 

Problem-solving and mathematics make up the foundations of programming, and you should be good at them. Junior software developers might naturally be inclined to solve puzzles, write code on paper, and break big problems down into smaller ones, but if you’re not, developing this as a habit can be very helpful. Some junior developers approach their code like a research topic – if you google enough on the subject, you will eventually stumble upon the right solution. Google and Stack Overflow are helpful, but you should also learn to trust your own skills.

To gain programming confidence, set up a couple of hours a week and try out different ways of solving problems. For example, you could break down a big problem and first “turn a string into a JavaScript array” before trying “reverse string JavaScript”. Also, make sure you work on projects that sparkle your interest. Even if you don’t feel like coding at some point, having a genuine interest in the technology can make it easier to complete the project.

Learn the Value of a Good Mentor 

We’ve all heard the saying that it is best to learn from others’ mistakes when we can. While it is inevitable to make your own mistakes when just starting out your career as a programmer, a good mentor will help you accelerate your professional development. Keeping this in mind, where can find such a person, and who should it be? FreeCodeCamp has a post on the top 5 types of mentors you should seek. Disclaimer, the final one is you – join online or local communities, enrol in tech courses and never stop expanding your horizons.

First, there is the Anchor type, who is there to help you throughout the journey of finding the meaning of your daily work as a software developer and boosting your motivations as you experience frustrations. The Champion is your mentor number two, who is always there for you and deeply cares about your future success, e.g. a family member or a close friend. Third, you’ll need the Muse, supplying you with a daily dose of inspiration, e.g. a senior developer in your company or on the Internet. Then there is the Partner, helping you with debugging code or choosing between refactoring and rewriting legacy code.

Adopt the Lifelong Learning Mentality

While I was researching the topic of this article, I asked my colleagues at Dreamix, who have extensive experience in software development, to share what advice they had for junior programmers. The one topic that kept emerging was that adopting a learning mentality is key to succeeding in a software development career. In fact, when everyone in your company becomes a lifelong learner, amazing things can happen on an organisational level. For example, your colleagues are 34% more likely to have a stronger sense of commitment to the company and 49% more likely to consider that the company fosters innovation.

This concept is also referred to as having a growth mindset. But what defines it and how to actually implement it? Essentially, it refers to the intrinsic human beliefs that learning and intelligence are not a fixed state but can be developed over our lifetime. If you’re just starting out as a software developer, concentrate on transforming learning into a habit. Becoming a great professional may be a bumpy ride, so acknowledging that makes the journey more worthwhile. Plus, don’t expect to know everything from the beginning. That’s what good mentors and reliable, open-minded teammates are here for: to share knowledge, inspire and guide.

If You’re in a Good Team, Don’t Rush to Leave

Young people tend to lack patience and, as a result, sometimes jump from job to job. They turn into job hoppers without ever taking time to develop meaningful relationships in the workplace. The key driving force behind this phenomenon is financial. Some other company offers them 20% higher salary or more benefits than the current one and junior software developers consider this to be an irresistible offer. And then, they sign in their resignation letter and wait until they’re ready to go.

However, appreciation for skilled, friendly and reliable teammates often comes with years of experience and years of working in various team configurations. The thing with job-hopping is that once young software developers decide to make a short-term occupation out of a long-term position, it slowly but surely becomes a pattern. As a result, many missed opportunities become evident years ago. Being part of a good team has long-term benefits, e.g. colleagues become friends, you build trust and this reflects in your project and you secure a safe space for developing your professional talents. In a dedicated team, instead of seeing each other as competitors that ought to be outperformed, you grow together, and you help each other out when things go wrong.

Don’t Start a Project from Scratch

Whether on blogs or in other people’s code, take inspiration from what exists to continue, build upon it and improve it further. Remember that you don’t need to reprogram everything that exists with each new software that you work on. This is a typical beginner’s mistake: wanting to program everything from scratch. While the desire to know everything deep down is a very positive personal quality, most probably, you won’t have to program any project literally from scratch.

The point of programming is to understand how systems work and write programs that solve a problem, not spend hours doing what’s already there, for better… or worse. There is no shame, especially for beginner programmers, in taking a code (with the necessary permissions) back into something different, better, or more relevant.

Author Biography Aleksandrina Vasileva 

Aleksandrina is a Content Creator at Dreamix, a custom software development company, and is keen on innovative technological solutions with a positive impact on our world. Her teaching background, mixed with interests in psychology, drives her to share knowledge. She is an avid reader and an enthusiastic blogger, always looking for the next inspiration.