There’s no question that learning tech skills can totally transform your career prospects. Tech skills are SUPER in-demand, with the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicting more than 135,000 new software development jobs in the USA by 2024. And the tech industry is also known for its high salaries—that same report predicts those developers will have a median salary of $98K!
What’s better, you don’t have to put your life (and your bank account) on hold and go back to school to qualify for one of these jobs. The BLS projects that web developers have one of the fastest growing and highest paying jobs that doesn’t require a bachelor’s degree.
But what is it REALLY like to work in tech? Does it mean being an IT professional at a major corporation, and helping other employees fix their computers and use software? Does it mean eating ramen out of a trough with three of your best college friends in an overpriced one-bedroom in Silicon Valley?
That’s the thing with tech—most of us imagine it looks a certain way, when there are actually a huge variety of jobs in the industry. For example, you could work as a web developer, a software developer, a visual designer, a digital marketer, a web designer, a full stack developer…or a lot more.
But chances are, when you think of “working in tech,” you’re imagining the life of a web developer who builds the sites and apps that you love, like a Ruby developer building the bones of the Airbnb website, or a WordPress developer keeping the New York Times in business.
In this post from our friends at Flatiron School, you’re going to find out exactly what a day in the life of a real developer (Bethanne Zink) is like. And not a senior developer who has a degree in computer science and a decade of experience—Bethanne is someone like you who learned most of her skills online and made a commitment to transform her career and life by learning to code.
Bethanne is an alumna of Flatiron’s three-month web development program in New York City. If you’re looking for a more intensive program after learning to code in a Skillcrush Blueprint, Flatiron is a great next step. Flatiron teaches in-person classes in NYC, and recently launched an online campus at Learn.co, which is self-paced and can be done full-time or next to work. To find out how to qualify for the program, click here, or get a taste of what it’s like in their free intro to programming course.
(If you’re just getting started with no prior coding experience, dip your toe in with Skillcrush’s free 10-day Coding Bootcamp. You’ll learn the basics, like the difference between a website and a web app, and even write your first lines of HTML!).
Learn What the Daily Life of a Junior Developer Is Really Like
Imagine it’s your one-year anniversary as a junior developer. You walk into work, sit down at your desk, turn on your computer…and then what?
Before you’ve officially entered the tech world, it’s hard to know what the day-to-day life of a junior developer actually looks like. But this info is extremely valuable—after all, we’re talking about your future here!
So, to give you an idea of what to expect, I talked to software engineer Bethanne Zink about her everyday routine and workload. Before Bethanne went to Flatiron School’s three-month web development program, she was a behavior therapist. Now she’s celebrating her one-year anniversary at online marketing analytics company Bounce Exchange.
THE DAILY WORKLOAD
Many tech jobs come with flexible schedules—and Bethanne’s role is no exception. She arrives at the office at 10 a.m. every day, just in time for a standup meeting with the entire development team.
After standup, Bethanne settles into her daily work, which is anything but routine.
“My work has very little time-based predictability or consistency,” she explains.
Bethanne spends roughly 60 percent of her time building out features on clients’ sites, 15 percent answering feasibility and functionality questions for members of the accounts team, 10 percent troubleshooting issues when other team members are “stuck on some code craziness,” and the last 15 percent assigning tasks to team members.
So basically, Bethanne spends three days a week writing code and the remaining two days working with the team, troubleshooting, and helping out where she can.
“I was promoted to team lead during my fourth month at the company, and that changed my job pretty significantly,” she says. “A much larger portion is now dedicated to helping people get unstuck and working with the accounts team to figure out what we should do on the client’s website.”
Bethanne says the earliest she leaves is 7 p.m., which she’s “been trying to do more often.”
“Most of the time, I stay until 8:00 or 9:00 or occasionally even later,” she explains. “Sometimes, I’m working that whole time, and sometimes I’m just shooting the breeze with co-workers for the last two or three hours of the day.”
Bethanne says these units of work typically have short-term deadlines and take anywhere from a few hours to a few days to complete.
“In order to complete these site-specific integrations, I extensively familiarize myself with the client’s website, so as to write code that jives perfectly with their existing code,” she says. “Today, I’m writing code that hooks into the API for the email service provider of one of our e-commerce clients. It’s a project that I’ve tackled for many of our other clients, but is always a little bit different, and entails playing with API calls, which is my favorite thing to do.”
The biggest challenges? Writing code that works across different browsers and devices, and integrating with sites that use front-end frameworks (like Angular and React).
“We work on a lot of different sites and every one is a different snowflake, which poses a challenge, but also keeps things interesting,” Bethanne adds. “It’s fun to dive into clients’ sites and see how other developers are building and designing their little piece of the Web.”
As team lead, Bethanne spends more time in meetings than the average junior developer. Every day she spends roughly an hour divvying up assignments to her team members.
Bethanne says this is actually her least favorite part of the job: “It’s a long, semi-tedious process, and I don’t like dictating what work others are required to complete.”
Along with her assignment meetings, Bethanne says that most weeks she attends an hour-long meeting with the entire integration team (“which mostly synonymous with saying ‘the junior engineers.’”)
There are also optional activities such as “lunch n’ learns” and informational sessions each week that Bethanne says she chooses to attend based on her workload and interest.
If your office has a cafeteria, like Bethanne’s does, you may end up eating most of your meals in the building.
“I often eat in the cafeteria with coworkers—usually other devs—and sometimes we go out to get takeout and bring it back to the office to eat in the common kitchen area,” she says. “We also have a generously-stocked kitchen with bagels and sandwich fixings, so I make my lunch at work two-to-three days a week.”
Plus, each Friday there’s a complimentary breakfast delivered around 11 a.m.
Also a cool Bounce Exchange perk: “lunch pods.”
“Once a month, the company sets up and pays for us all to eat together in small groups at restaurants of our choosing,” Bethanne explains. “This allows us to connect with people in other departments who we don’t normally see. And it gives us an excuse to have an extra-long, extra-relaxing lunch every now and then.”
SATURDAY AND SUNDAY
“I definitely work on the weekends, but that’s my own choice,” Bethanne says. “Basically, there’s always work to be done. As a Team Lead, I’d rather work a little extra on Saturday than load up work on my teammates.”
But she adds, “No one at the company is requiring me to do that—I don’t feel pressure from above. If anything, they want me to do less.”
Going to Flatiron School and becoming a software engineer definitely means Bethanne’s “average day” looks different than before.
“Watching my own progress is really exciting,” Bethanne says. “I’ve definitely been growing in ways I didn’t anticipate.”
Image credit: CC by WOCinTech Chat