My first year working as a professional software developer

Now it is official: I have been working as a professional software developer for a whole year. Just like the title said. It has been challenging yet rewarding. And for the most part, it has been the best year professionally (so far).

That sums up my skills pretty nicely.

But let’s back up a bit. How did I get here?

I got into Haaga-Helia University of Applied Sciences and started my studies in January of 2017. About one month in I had decided what I want to focus my studies on and that re-ignited the spark for programming that I had lost a while back. I majored in software development and graduated in June of 2018.

The whole time I was there I spent as much of my free time as I possibly could to learn the art of programming. I focused on web development and the language of choice was the oh-so-hated JavaScript. Sure it isn’t perfect and it has its quirks but what made it so good for me was the fact that you’d see the results immediately just by refreshing your browser window. It was highly rewarding. It didn’t take too long for me to find Node.js and Vue.js which I used to develop the first version of Makro.

By the end of summer of 2017 I had mustered enough confidence to start applying for junior developer positions. But since I had zero professional experience as a developer and only about 6 months of programming experience in general I wasn’t the most wanted person so to speak. But before the end of the year I was offered a job to work as a mobile developer (with jQuery if I remember correct) or as a systems specialist with the possibility to do some minor software development down the road. I chose the latter.

Tru dat.

I did enjoy the job but I wasn’t satisfied, though. I wanted to be a software developer. During February of 2018, I was offered a job with a really fancy title: software engineer. I had to take it, no questions asked. In a way, it was a dream come true. Sure I did not feel worthy to be called a software engineer (and still don’t) but I decided that someday I will be worthy of my title. I’ll work my ass of to get there.

I started my new job the second of March of 2018 and after about two weeks I was sent to a customer as a full stack developer. The technology stack in question was Java / Spring Boot + MySQL backend with Angular 4 frontend. I ended up mostly working as a frontend developer but by the end of 2018 I had done backend development, too.

During this year I have learned so much. I had zero understanding of software development before this job, to put it bluntly, but now I’m off to a great start. Now I have professional experience with Angular 4/6, Spring Boot 2, Node.js and React + Redux, although everything else than Angular is about 3 months or so. Even so, I can confidently say that I am able to work with all these technologies to some extent and I am getting better every day.

But I think the most important thing that I have learned is that this job is constantly learning new things. This job is hard, not just for me but for many others. It’s constant problem solving and debugging but I find that really rewarding (albeit sometimes frustrating, too) if and when you manage to solve the problem in question.

This is my dream job. It could be yours, too, if you have a knack for problem-solving and/or enjoy learning new things. Beware, though, that it does require commitment and probably a lot of time but in my totally honest opinion it is absolutely worth it.

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