Becoming an irreplaceable junior software developer

As a junior developer it's easy at times to feel a little lost. Yet there are things you can do to increase your own productivity.

You’ve started a job as a junior developer. You’re getting used to the team. Maybe you feel a bit lost on where you can best contribute to the team? Luckily there area areas you can focus on to make an immediate impact.

Cultivated specific expertise

Most teams have a skill deficit in a certain area. This could be CSS, databasing, agile working. If you can find and identify these skill deficit areas you can provide incredible value to your team.
 
Focused effort on a specific topic can create a mastery in a shorter time than you might realise. As software developers we’re required to understand such broad topic areas. This means the rest of your team might be feeling the pains of spreading themselves too thin.
 
This poses a great opportunity within your team. Rather than trying to keep up with every area instead focus on only one. Master that. And then move on to the next. With this approach you will soon find others coming to you for support in your area(s) of expertise. It takes patience but it can make all the difference.

Support the team

Often most developers will shy away from doing “managerial tasks”. Things like organising tasks, unblocking members of the team and anticipating issues. If you notice this trend, you can offer to take up some of these tasks. Soon, the team will soon be seeing you as an essential part of the operation.

Conclusion

As a junior developer, it’s easy to feel like a spare part. But we must remember that we’re operating on a team. This means that team output is far more important than our output as individuals. By noticing this we can start to see far more tasks that are within our grasp when joining a new team.

Lou is a Front End Software Developer who currently lives and works in London. A voracious reader with an insatiable inquisition.

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  • Just ask lots and lots of questions. I’m always impressed when junior devs have the guts to ask when they get stuck.

    • I find I ask questions “more” frequently now than I did as a junior. I say more in inverted commas because I have less to ask questions about, naturally. But, I now seem to ask a question almost every time I don’t understand something.

      Building a culture where people can ask questions is _so_ important.