Leveling up as an early career developer, by Cody Norman

Becoming a well rounded developer involves more than just learning how to code.
How can new developers land their first role and what can they do to succeed? This talk will go over what I’ve found as the most important items to focus on when trying to progress and feel more confident for early career developers and how they can prepare themselves for a successful career.


Intended Audience
The intended audience for this talk are developers early in their career looking to progress and people interested in things they can do to set themselves apart while looking for their first role.

This talk will give early career developers more information on what to focus on to continue to hone their skills and progress their careers. It will also have some information on how best to support these new developers to get the best out of them.


Intro (5 mins)

Some background on myself starting out as a new developer from a bootcamp 9 years ago and not having support.

More info on the mentorship things I’ve been doing the past year with AOL and others
My experiences with working closely with a group of early career developers honing their skills while contributing to open source.
How and why we try to keep things as close as possible to a real software team.

Soft Skills (are actually pretty hard) 10 mins

These are harder to teach
Push yourself out of your comfort zone.
How to ask for help.
How to make it easier for people to help you.
Don't be afraid to sound ‘dumb’.
Things you can do to help others ask more ‘dumb’ questions
Don’t discount the importance of these types of skills.
Software is still written (for now) and used by people

Becoming more self sufficient (10 mins)

Your senior/mentor probably doesn’t know the answer but knows where to find it
How to search what’s already been asked.
How you can improve that for others
How to search or read documentation
Searching Github
Searching Pull Request History
Searching the codebase
Thinking about a close example and how it can be adapted.
Be Curious!

Sharpen Your Tools (5 mins)

Learn about what’s out there
Don't be afraid to tinker
But don’t become a Magpie Developer chasing the shiny tools
The tools you use don’t matter as much as how well you can use them
Find your friction points
Getting really good at just a couple of git things
IRB / Rails Console
Using a debugger

Mistakes are your friend (5 minutes)

Get out of your comfort zone (again)
The best way to fix bugs is to create a lot of them
1000 marbles example from Effortless
When learning a new language, start with a bag of 1000 marbles and take one out every time you make a mistake. When the bag is empty. You’ve reached level 1 fluency.
Create, Destroy and Rebuild

Conclusion & Getting Involved (5 mins)

How you can get involved as a mentor or mentee
You don’t have to be an expert to help someone
Call to action to look for opportunities to help others

Q&A - 5 mins (if time allows)


As a volunteer for The Agency of Learning, I’ve spent the past year working closely with early career developers looking to land their first roles and progress in their careers. We try to keep the experience as close as possible to working on a real team. This includes standups, pull request reviews, 1:1, demos, etc while working on Open Source projects. I’ve been conducting daily sessions with a small group of developers where we have a quick standup, then take some time to talk about issues and topics they’re facing in more detail in an office hours type session. I also have an open calendar to book time and discuss and work through issues in more detail 1:1. I’ve seen some tremendous growth and progress from these developers and would like to share some of the areas that I think have made the biggest impact.

This talk will detail some of the most impactful areas to focus on as a new developer who’s trying to progress their career and hone their craft. I’ll also be sharing some of my personal lessons (the painful ones always stick) and experiences as a career changer, developer, and mentor.

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RubyConf 2023 - Rejected [Edit]

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