My First Few Days As A Junior Web Developer

After 2 years of studying/coding (with a couple very half-hearted years before that), a portfolio, a handful of websites, 100+ job applications and one interview (in a pub), I am now a junior web developer by profession.

I’ll do a separate blog post shortly on how I got the job. This is the summary of the first couple of days – clearly I’m only writing about my experience and it may be entirely different to other junior web developer’s first days.

I was employed mainly for my CSS skills, though PHP is probably the second-most important coding aspect of the job. And when I was interviewed, I knew nothing about it. My JavaScript is ok – good for a beginner, so that should stand me in good stead in terms of the functionality of how PHP is structured.

Just around the corner from my house, I saw this large discarded stuffed horse on a mattress. I took this as a good sign.

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My first day started with the usual welcome, installing of programs and getting a feel of them. Slack, Git and Sublime Text were all new to me – Sublime Text isn’t so different from Brackets that I use at home as my main text editor so that was fine.

Slack is very self-explanatory – a kind of collaborative e-mail/messenger for those not in the know. Git had previously seemed mysterious with its pull/push/commit stuff but was relatively straight-forward to learn. Again, for those not in the know, it is a popular form of version control – whereby multiple people can work on a file, and changes are continually merged (when the user chooses) and the most useful part is that you can delete certain changes that you have committed – ie if you fuck something up you can just delete that particular change or two.

Once we’d had a quick visit to the pub (cherry juice only), I was tasked with some simple amendments on an existing website – changing positions,for example. And it was all going so well.

Then I was offered something more complex. I accepted with relative gusto. It was a re-writing of the styling and positioning of various elements which depended on each other, not at all helped by the background image being inline-styled. I played around before lunch, committed some changes and then had to have a break.

During the afternoon I continued with this task and managed to get the mobile-styling spot on, almost, but it was going from bad to worse on tablet/desktop. I didn’t get chance to finish before we went to the pub. For a beer this time. A well-deserved beer.

The next morning, I was utterly stumped – I couldn’t work out what I needed to undo from the day before as some changes needed reversing, and my inspect element tool (to the non-coders, it allows you to right-click any page and change the styling temporarily, until you press refresh) was not working. I couldn’t understand why. It was a bit of a disaster and although difficult should not have been this difficult. I asked my employer to reverse all my changes. I felt pretty dumb.

Thankfully, my new employers are patient, welcoming, friendly and occasionally fun – they understood, reversed all my changes and then I proceeded to try again in a more logical top-to-bottom order – instead of mobile-to-desktop as I had first attempted.

All good. But by late afternoon I was completely stumped on a pricing table task – and I still have no idea why it is behaving as it is. I’ve tidied it up as best as possible – it works and is an improvement but it has too much space on tablet.

I have only been tasked with CSS (styling) amendments so far and they have been impressed with my work – they thought I would still be at this point early next week. PHP comes tomorrow – and that will be a different challenge altogether.

On a Friday too.

It has been a very pleasant change to have a job I find interesting and challenging, not to mention working in a pleasant office with some form of air conditioning. Oh and I can wear shorts – I haven’t quite got the shortest shorts out yet – that might have to wait until next week. Or maybe just until next summer.

At times it has been easy – at other times frustrating – but that is coding for you – if you don’t like the eureeka moments after 2 hours of trying to work something out then you shouldn’t really be coding.

I’ve learnt more this week than in the previous four years in my old accounting job.

Really looking forward to the point where I am creating corporate websites from scratch.