5 Things I've Learnt as an Apprentice Software Developer

I’ve been working as an apprentice software developer for a couple of months now and there are some things that I’ve learnt that I wanted to share. I hope that the below is useful to you if you are thinking about becoming developers or graduating from a bootcamp and going into your first job.

computer monitor showing php code

Photo by Ilya Pavlov on Unsplash

1. Remember the basics and keep it simple

Before you learn a framework you need to learn the basics of the language at its core. Before you reach for React, for example, ask yourself if you could solve this problem with vanilla JS? Otherwise you will most likely overuse frameworks and try to make them do things they were not designed for. It also makes debugging much harder if you don’t understand why the code works the way it does.

2. You will read far more code than you write

Once you get into a job you will be working on existing codebases most of the time. This is why you should try to write code that is clean and maintainable to make life easier for your future self and your colleagues. There are many approaches to this but some common advice includes commenting your code, refactoring to improve understandability and writing small classes and functions.

3. Don’t get hung up on language choice

There are endless debates about the merits of different languages and approaches to writing software but don’t get lost in the weeds. I think it’s good to be pragmatic and start with the most popular (and well established) languages in your area. You can always write your side project in Kotlin, Coffeescript or similar.

4. It’s better to ask for help (after a certain point)

It’s good to try to solve problems on your own but if you’re blocked it’s fine (and encouraged) to ask for help. Pair programming can make squashing bugs quicker and more fun. Taking a break can also make a difference as well as talking through the code out loud to an inanimate object (known as rubber ducking).

5. You need to be constantly learning throughout your career

Programming languages, frameworks and environments are always updating. Continuous learning not only helps you stay relevant in the job market but can help you understand more deeply some aspect of the languages you use every day. As programmers we should always be wanting to find better ways of doing things.

I’m very lucky to be on an apprenticeship provided by Founders and Coders and Common Knowledge. For more information about the FAC programme and how to apply go to https://www.foundersandcoders.com/apply/