What To Expect From Your First 6 Months As A Software Engineer 👩🏾‍💻

My 6 month review as a new Software Engineer


4/15/20243 min read

Just a moment of transparency, I wasn’t going to make this post. When I hit my six-month mark as a developer, I felt that I hadn’t gained as much confidence in my technical ability as I’d expected 😱. In my role, as a Pharmacist, I was seen as an 'expert' in medicine and could recall things from the side effects of a medicine right down to the chemical mechanisms of how it worked in the body 💊. But starting fresh in a new field meant I had to face the fact that I was now a beginner…again.

But then, I decided to take a closer look at my progress. I dug into a document I keep at work called 'General Learning', where I jot down anything important I've picked up along the way including programming concepts/frameworks etc 📝. It was meant to be a quick reference guide, but it ended up showing me just how far I've come in the past six months.

It allowed me to realise that six months ago, terms like "Spring Boot" and "asynchronous messaging" were like a foreign language to me. Now, I can whip up APIs from scratch using Spring Boot, and I get how things like asynchronous messaging work thanks to technologies like Kafka 👩🏾‍💻.

I also got the hang of testing including Junit testing, end-to-end testing and frameworks used to execute them. Most importantly, I see the importance of testing code and how to creatively come up with test cases to ensure its robustness 💻.

And let's not forget about agile methodologies. Six months ago, things like ‘sprints’, ‘jira’ etc were just concepts that sat purely in my mind. Now, I'm right in the thick of it, using tools like Jira and actively participating in sprints.

My growth wasn’t limited to technical learning. I’ve learnt domain knowledge and company-specific information. Including how to use company-specific technologies, processes, my business area and its significance in the grand scheme of things. I have a better understanding of the business areas of a bank and what things like 'Bonds', Primary and secondary markets and 'derivatives' are 🏦.

And the document didn't end there (VERY humble brag) but instead of turning this into a ‘what Ruth has learnt’ post, I wanted to highlight an important learning from all of this.

The process of switching careers is kind of like climbing a mountain ⛰️. A podcast episode I was listening to from the "Take What You Need" podcast titled “What did 2022 teach you (S2 E4)”, clearly depicts this imagery. ‘Climbing the mountain’ involves resistance which can look like putting in extra hours of learning how to code, embarking on a challenging boot camp, trying to network within this new community, and getting endless rejections from job applications. But eventually, that downward pull of gravity disappears as you reach the mountain peak - a job in that field. You've finally reached the top, all your hard work has paid off and you are joyful 🥳. However, the adrenaline of celebrating your achievement wears off and you slowly acknowledge the decrease in altitude and the decline of temperature at this peak 😕. You are in a new environment with new conditions which present new challenges and demand readjustment. This can ultimately make you feel like a beginner again.

Being a beginner again might feel uncomfortable, but it's all part of the journey. and is something to be embraced. The great thing is, that the senior developers and MDs you see solving bugs with their eyes closed were all beginners at once. They too faced resistance but used this to become better (see my blog post on loving bugs to get more detail on this).

For anyone else starting out in this field, I'd say keep track of what you learn and give yourself GRACE. Focus on incremental improvements with the main goal of being better than you were yesterday - this will compound into something incredible 🌟.

If you enjoyed this post, here are others you may like:

5 self-limiting beliefs hindering your career change

How to become a SWE without a CS degree

Decoding the Dilemma, Bootcamps Vs CS degree

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