Tips for Your First Job as a Software Engineer

By Richard O

Congratulations on landing your first job in the industry! You’ve made it through the first big hurdle. To help you get through your first few months, here are some tips that have been helpful for me.

1. Take notes:

    You will have a lot of information given to you in the first few weeks and not a lot of time to retain it all.

    I recommend taking notes on topics such as vocabulary and acronyms you’ve never heard of. You will likely have difficulty getting applications working the first time even while closely following the GitHub Readmes. From my experience, these are to be expected! You can turn this into an opportunity by providing feedback and updating outdated documentation.

    2. Time box your tasks:

    Time boxing is something that I struggled with the most. I’d find myself going down rabbit holes and attempting to get through blockers on my own, and then realize hours later that I should have just asked a teammate for help. Set a timer and stick to it. Remember that software engineering is a team effort and that your peers will often be happy to help you if you ask.

    3. Improve your Googling skills:

    It’s been said before and it bears repeating: Googling is a skill.

    Like any skill, it can be improved. For example, these are just a few keywords that I use daily to narrow down search results:

    1. Exact search: Specific thing I need to find
    2. Specifying sites: site:
    3. Filtering results by date: after: 2022
    4. Excluding words from your search: dolphins football miami miami dolphins

    4. Make extra effort to communicate clearly:

    Be succinct but don’t skimp out on important details. When asking your questions, include details on what you’ve already tried. This will save time and effort in the long run.

    5. Do your due diligence:

    Although you shouldn’t be afraid to ask questions, it’s important to be respectful of your peers’ time by doing due diligence beforehand.

    A few questions to ask yourself:

    1. Could your question be answered by reading the task more carefully?
    2. Could your question be answered by searching for a solution online?
    3. Could your question be answered by reading documentation?

    6. Be prepared to write production-level code:

    This is a loaded topic! In short, I’ve found that this means meeting a few minimum requirements:

    1. Write clean, self-documenting code (Clean Code by Robert Martin is a great read for this)
    2. Write unit tests that test edge cases
    3. Handle errors carefully
    4. Logging

    I hope you’ve found value in these tips, and I encourage you to pass along the knowledge to your future juniors!