You’ve spent the last four years of your life in dorms, going from classes to homework to parties and now you’ve just graduated and you have to do this thing called adulting. Besides dealing with bills, scheduling doctors appointments yourself, and actually cooking healthy, adulting means applying for and starting a job, which can be pretty scary. Add a distributed workplace into that mix can make it even scarier. It certainly was when I started working for Chromatic in August after graduating from Drexel University in June. Even though it was a huge adjustment, I wouldn’t change it for the world. Here's what I learned during my transition:
1. Don’t be afraid to apply for a job you’re not qualified for.
Chromatic wasn’t specifically looking for a junior level developer, but that didn’t stop me from submitting an application. After all, you never know! But, it is actually nice being so junior - I can almost guarantee there is someone on the team who has been there, done that and is definitely willing to help.
2. Imposter syndrome is a real thing but you can conquer it.
Being the only junior employee at a company full of experienced developers, it is easy to feel like you don’t belong, but it is also important to remember that they hired you for a reason. If you weren’t good enough for the job they would not have hired you. You ARE meant to be there and you are good enough! Your employer isn’t expecting you to be the best developer that ever lived, but as long as you work hard and meet your deadlines, you definitely should know you belong!
3. Public speaking can be awful, but working with such a tight-knit group makes it possible.
I hate public speaking, that is absolutely no secret. My absolute least favorite class from college was public speaking (even worse than the Adobe Flash class I had to take). But every single week, twice a week, I am forced to speak in front of everyone on our weekly team calls. I think Zoom makes this easier, everyone is at home in their own element and it's much more relaxed than a classroom.
4. Don’t get burned out, know when enough work is enough.
It’s so easy to get into the zone and keep working from early in the morning until late at night, but doing this every night is really not worth it. If you find yourself doing this because you forget to look at the time, just set an alarm and take a break every time the alarm goes off. If it’s because you’re struggling with your work, reach out to your project manager! They’re there to help and definitely won’t judge if you need to ask a question. More on that later though.
If you ever feel yourself starting to get unfocused, take a break - watch some tv, read a book, learn to knit - do something completely different from what you’re working on, and then go back to work refreshed. I don’t really have a problem with this because my little dog loves to take long walks. If she had her way we would be out walking every single day. And this leads right into "don’t forget to exercise!" Go for a run, pick up a sport or attend a dance class! I started ballet classes a few weeks ago and it has been so much fun!
5. Have a dedicated work space and make a routine.
It’s super easy to wake up, grab your computer and start working right from your bed but you probably won’t be as productive as if you actually got up, got ready and got to work at a real desk. Sure it may be comfy to be in your PJs all day but there really is this magical feeling when you get up and get dressed and ‘go to work’. You don’t have to wear a full suit and tie or anything (though I totally won’t judge if you really wanted to wear your super fancy fly sequined dress every day … well maybe if you wore it everyday ...) a pair of leggings and a sweatshirt will definitely do the job!
6. Ask Questions.
This may seem obvious, but sometimes you can’t figure something out that you think should be obvious but isn’t - there really really are no dumb questions and you never know if someone else might be having the same problem. As long as you learn from your question and don’t ask the same thing over and over and over again, any question is definitely worth the ask.
7. Stay organized and keep on top of your schedule and what you need to do.
I’m still working on this one, but I’ve been using Fantastical and it's done wonders. All my calendars sync up and there's even a todo list right in the app. I also use GitHub to track what tickets are assigned to me and when I run out of tickets I can easily find more to work on.
Working full time at a distributed company right out of college may seem scary, but as long as you’re willing to put the effort in you can be successful! Now go get a slice of pizza and remember - you’ve graduated college, you can go home, relax, and not have to worry about another exam, paper, or piece of homework again!