I always knew there would be a lot of emotions to work through once I started my first developer job. I mean, starting a new job is hard no matter how much experience you have but when you're just breaking in to the industry its even more stressful.
While I knew it would be hard, I honestly thought that having gone through the transition of not knowing anything about a code base to being able to build out some pretty involved features during my Outreachy internship would mean I would be more prepared once I started working. I was wrong.
There was something about being an 'intern' that eased some of the emotions for me. When I didn't know something or if I did something wrong, it might be embarrassing, but I could easily chalk it up to the learning process. However, once I had a title, even 'junior', it suddenly felt more real.
The first week was good as I had a team member who was there to help me get acclimated and who checked in with me every day. At the end of that week I felt pretty good about what I was able to accomplish and was looking forward to digging in to bigger problems. However, as I moved into these bigger problems I began to realize just how much I still had to learn in order to get to a place where I could work more independently.
To be clear, there was no pressure from any one on my team. One of the things I sincerely appreciated from the application process all the way through the interviews and onto the job was the understanding that this was a 'junior' role and they fully expected that I would have questions and make mistakes. I just really want to do well and so being in a state of uncertainty within the code felt terrible and a bit scary.
However, I've always made it a point to avoid getting stuck in my emotions and this was one of those times when that, along with my tenacity, really paid off. So, whenever I would begin to feel overwhelmed I would allow myself some time to take that in and then I would take a breath, find a starting point and begin to break the problem down. When I would genuinely get stuck I would reach out and ask questions. Thankfully, the teammate who helped me the first week was also the lead on the project I was working on so that made asking questions a little less intimidating.
As I approach the end of my second month on the job I'm feeling much better about where I'm at. I've been able to effectively break down more problems and am finding it much easier to navigate around the code base. There's still a lot to learn, but I feel like I'm closer to being able to accomplish more with less uncertainty involved...and that feels really good.