What Really Matters When Looking for Junior Developer Jobs

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You’re finally on your way to landing your first junior dev job. You’ve been crushing code for almost six months, building apps you never thought possible, and now looking forward to working at an awesome new startup or established company. But graduating from a coding bootcamp and taking your first step into the real world can seem more than a little overwhelming. How do you know you’re making the right decision for you and your future?

It is important to hold high standards, but don’t just look at the name of the company and the salary you will be making: It’s more than just accepting a job, it’s going to be a huge part of your future. If you’re changing careers, it might be difficult to see anything other than dollar signs, but the ultimate goal is to find the company and the position you’re going to learn the most.

In order to find the right company with the right position, you need to know what questions to ask. Consider these when looking for your first programming job:

Do you feel good about the work they do?

There’s more to a company than just their name. Take a look at the company’s mission and their core values and see if they align with your own. See how they have made an impact, if they’re poised to grow over the next 5 years, and how you can be part of it.

Even if you take big salary, you’re likely to feel miserable if you’re not excited about what the company actually does. Would you be be proud to tell people you work there? If you don’t care about the business and it’s customers you’ll have a hard time digging deep to get a feature done or solve a big problem, once you have the job the money is no longer much motivation.

What are the actual job responsibilities of the position?

Developer roles are endless, from a web developer to an analyst, so it’s important to look into the specifics of the role the company is hiring for. Look for positions that suit your skills, knowledge, and needs.

The roles of a junior, mid, and senior developer can change dramatically company to company, so make sure you look into the details and ask questions instead of just assuming a “junior” job has certain responsibilities.

What technologies are they are using?

As a junior developer, you’ll be constantly learning and adapting in any role you take. That’s just the nature of the job.

While you already hopefully have a wide array of industry skills, different companies use different technologies, so It is important to look at what kind of learning curve you’ll be facing. Are you familiar with their stack? If not, how much work will you have to put in to feel competent and make an impact? Consider who much on boarding time you’ll spend feeling “lost,” and how much homework you’ll have to get up to speed. On that note…

What is their on-boarding process?

And do they even have one? Small companies probably haven’t formalized this yet, but you should know what you’ll be focused on in the first 90 days, and when you’re actually expected to touch code.

At some companies, you might not have an opportunity to get code in production for up to 6 months as a you finish your training.

What is the company culture?

A company’s culture is essentially its personality. It is the company’s shared beliefs, values and practices — the unique way your organization sees the world and acts.

Does the company culture alight with your values? Do you like the people who work there? And do they value the type of work/life balance you want? All of these are more important questions than salary when it comes to your first job.

Where is this position going to take you?

During the interview, ask how the company is going to support you in your long-term career goals. Don’t be afraid to ask if they’ll pay for additional training in new technologies, or if you’ll have time to work on your own initiatives and projects.

Remember, you should have a rough idea of your long term career prospects before you start considering roles. While a nice starting salary can be attractive, don’t let it distract you for where you want to be in 5, 10, or even 15 years.

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