We interviewed Brittany Martin, who is one of our speakers at ConFoo Vancouver 2016. Her presentation is titled “How to Employ All of the New Junior Developers” Brittany is a lead Ruby developer and a mentor. She lives in Pittsburgh, United States.
What kind of skills can an employer expect from a junior developer?
If a company is suffering from a stale culture, hiring junior developers can breathe new life into the workplace. They typically set a great example with their passion. They have acquired a lot of knowledge in a very short time frame, possibly on their personal time. Since junior developers are encouraged to engage in the local developer community while learning to code, they can often refer a lot of new candidates and get your company involved in your local community.
Junior developers switching from another career will bring a lot of domain expertise to their new jobs. I love seeing ex-nurses working at a healthcare startup, ex-CPAs working at a financial services company, or ex-product managers assisting with project management at their new company. As a junior developer, provide your entire career history, not just your coding timeline.
Are there advantages to hiring junior developers over seasoned ones?
By training a new technical employee, a lot of bad processes can be revealed. Junior developers will quickly point out poor documentation, bad on-boarding steps, and flimsy feedback loops. Remember, these students put their entire livelihood on the line to switch careers. They are heavily invested in making their new job work.
For what roles should new developers aim?
Most new developers are too focused on getting a role with the word "developer" in the title. This is a mistake because those roles are highly coveted by the 16k bootcamp students who graduated in 2015 alone. Instead, they should focus on positions that support the engineering team directly. Quality assurance, support engineers, and project managers are great examples of openings that struggle to find great recruits.
What is your top advice for a graduating developer?
There are so many opportunities to find people at all levels, from those who are just learning to code all the way to experienced developers who want to mentor new ones. Take a look at meetup.com. I found Women Who Code and started attending the meetings once I started to learn Ruby on Rails. The tech companies are eager to host local developers because they are all eagerly hiring. So not only are you meeting other developers who work at hiring companies, but the host is looking for talent, too. It is the ultimate win-win situation. Try to locate niche events because the companies involved are interested in your domain expertise.