So you’re ready to enter the workforce as a web developer. That’s exciting! But with excitement can also come uncertainty: What does a junior web developer do? What are your responsibilities day-to-day?
Job Duties of Entry-Level Programmers
From fixing bugs to pair programming, junior web developers are often given beginner-level work to match your experience. You will also see that sometimes you’re given work that’s not related to coding.
Let’s talk about the many duties and tasks a junior web developer takes on.
As a junior web developer, you will not be expected to have full working knowledge yet. It takes time in the workforce to build experience to gain more knowledge to move to a more intermediate role. With that being said, many companies will offer training for junior web developers on the technologies the company uses to build their software.
Training can include online guides, in-person training, learning from books and sometimes one-on-one lessons from senior developers inside the company.
Which leads me to the next thing junior web developers do.
Pair programming is when two developers work on a problem together on one computer. There is usually a “driver” who types out the code and a “navigator” who reviews the work and discusses concepts with the driver to help them write better code.
As a junior web developer, you will typically pair with a more senior web developer. As the driver or navigator, you are able to learn the ins and outs of the codebase with the help of their pair programming partner and the partner. It’s also a great opportunity to learn from someone more experienced and see how that person thinks through problems to get their work done.
I recommend swapping roles over time, either during the same coding session or over time as you build a relationship with the people you pair with. Not all companies encourage pair programming, so if this is a learning format that you know works well for you, it will be important for you to talk about it and ask questions before you take on a position.
Squashing Straightforward Bugs
Since junior web developers are usually the least experienced on a team, it’s common to give them smaller, more limited pieces of work. This will generally be something that typically doesn’t take a lot of outside help, like a browser-specific error or a visual bug.
Working on Internal Projects
Another thing you might work on as a junior dev is internal projects. Internal projects can be a great way for you to try new things and push your abilities without feeling the pressure of getting things exactly right for your users. An example of an internal project might be a sales dashboard or a tool to improve internal communication within your company.
While you might prefer to work on public-facing projects, there’s a lot to be said for working on internal efforts.
First, working on them allows you to show off your skills and abilities with your manager.
Internal projects also tend to have looser deadlines as they don’t usually immediately affect the bottom line, meaning that you might have more time to explore, try new ideas and learn, without the pressure of an immediate deadline.
It’s also easier to change tech stacks or update to new technologies internally before making the larger investment to make those kinds of changes on the public facing products.
The next type of work for a junior web developer is testing. Testing comes in many different forms, but the most common is manually interacting with features and making every effort to find any bugs or missing pieces. You might also write automated tests, which allows software to re-run those tests every time new code is introduced into the application.
Many junior web developers will end up with a “tester” title or something in QA (“quality assurance”) and be asked to do this work full-time. It’s helpful to get involved with testing at least once in your career, as it’s a specialized skill that is incredibly valuable when done correctly.
Depending on the size of the company, data entry is a common task given to a junior web developer. As a person competent at using the computer, in a small team you might be the most qualified person to efficiently do data entry.
When you get a role as a junior web developer, you will most likely want to write code more often than complete simple tasks like data entry. To flex your coding skills, try writing scripts and practicing your skills in the terminal to find more efficient ways to get the work done (and perhaps impress your boss!). I also recommend communicating regularly with your manager about the expectations of your position.
Growing Toward the Future
To keep growing your skill set, I recommend having a humble attitude and allowing those ahead of you to teach you and train you. And even as a junior web developer, you will have your own experience and knowledge to share with your team members as you get used to your role and grow as a developer!
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