My first 8 months in the tech industry

Posted on December 10, 2020 by Joona

What I’ve learned during my first ~8 or so months in the tech industry.

So I have been coding full-time for the past 8 or so months and a lot has changed in that time, both regarding my perception of the whole tech field and also my personal skills. So I thought it would be fun to share some of my thoughts about these topics!

1. Working as a “coder” means a lot more than just writing code

At the very beginning of my journey in learning to write code, I thought that just being able to write let’s say JavaScript would be enough to actually work as a professional developer. Now I’ve found out that it’s not really the case. You might be able to find some job where you can only work on coding problems and focus on writing you’re favorite programming language but it’s definitely not always the case. And I’m not saying it’s a bad thing but just something to keep in mind. And maybe a fact to consider if you’re looking for a new job.

Now that I have been working professionally as a web developer for a few months I’ve noticed that only a fraction of my time working is actually spent writing code. There’s just so much more to it.

2. The skills that are actually useful in web development

This kind of follows the first point in regards that only being able to write JavaScript and some basic CSS is not going to get you very far, at least if you actually have to build a finished product and get it to production.

Maybe the biggest thing I’ve struggled with in the past few months has been all kinds of networking related problems. To be honest I didn’t know very much about the network and everything surrounding it before I had to struggle for days just trying to get some basic Nginx configurations done for basic web apps.

This next point might only apply if you are working in a small company where there are no dedicated DevOps people so also the DevOps side has to be handled by the developers. This is the case in the company that I’m working in. Having to think about the DevOps side definitely also has positive sides. It makes you really think about what you are doing so you are not screwed right when you actually want to run your app somewhere else than the localhost. But since all the struggles I’ve had regarding this, I’ve eventually come to even kind of like it. I even spun up my own Kubernetes cluster since that seems like a really cool and powerful tool that I think is the future of deploying web apps.

I don’t want to sound like you wouldn’t actually need to know how to code. I’m definitely not trying to say that. It’s still the most important part of the job and probably the part you enjoy the most. So I think it’s really important to try to enjoy writing code and also striving to improve all the time.

3. It’s not always fun

When I was studying to become a developer everything seemed to be quite fun and interesting. I think that’s because I could always choose what I’m actually doing. If I felt like reading my current favorite book, or work on my passion project, I could just do it. If one day I didn’t feel like touching my keyboard I could just take a day off or learn by watching some videos.

Now that I’m working for a company I have to do what they tell me to do. And that’s of course the way it should be. It just means that sometimes you have to do stuff that you don’t find interesting or quite honestly just hate doing. This is definitely a place where I need to improve. I’ve noticed that when I’m doing something that I don’t really feel like doing I’m not as productive. I know that’s probably not the way it should be, but I’m working on it!

4. Syntax is not actually that difficult (at least most of the time)!

After learning to program in one language I found out that the majority of the mainstream languages are actually so similar in terms of the syntax. It really is more about knowing that certain things exist, because after that finding out how to write some specific thing in the desired language is easy as an google search.

This is not always the case though! While learning Haskell it has really been a “culture shock”. The difficult thing is not really the syntax but the way you think about problems has to be drastically different in a purely functional language like Haskell.

5. You need to keep learning

I want to end this on a positive note. Propably that almost all developers like learning new things and I have good news for you, you’re not going to run out of things to learn! I think learning new languages and technologies is the time that I’m actually having the most fun.

List of things I’m currently learning

  1. Functional programming : This is probably the topic I have had the most interest towards for quite a while now. I’m currently tinkering with both Haskell and Clojure and just kind of trying to figure out what I like about each of them and also trying to pick up the good practices that come from the functional paradigm and bring them to the languages that I’m writing at work wich are TypeScript, JavaScript and Python.

  2. Kubernetes : As I already said I spun up my own cluster on Digitalocean and I’m really excited to learn more about it and maybe try to bring it to my work in the future!

Best regards. Joona Piirainen