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GreenGodDiary

What can I expect as a Junior Programmer?

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Hello guys and gals,

I'm starting my first job as a programmer in a month (yay!) and wanted to know what experiences you've had at your first job/as a junior programmer!
The title is actually Graduate Programmer but I figure there's little difference(?). Specifically I'll be working mainly in Unreal and Unity.
I'm a bit nervous as can be expected and really want to do well and I figure having some idea of what I can expect on a day-to-day basis might help me and perhaps others who are starting out in the industry!


Just going to throw out some topics but feel free to talk about anything!

- What did you do on your first day/week/month?
- What were your deadlines like? Stressful/relaxed?
- How were you trained/coached?
- How did you prepare/wish you had prepared for the job?

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Your first day might be just a settling in day. Don't worry about deadlines until somebody gives you one. You are already prepared for the job. You might not get any coaching; you can always ask (maybe there's a mentoring protocol in place, maybe not). 

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14 hours ago, Tom Sloper said:

Your first day might be just a settling in day. Don't worry about deadlines until somebody gives you one. You are already prepared for the job. You might not get any coaching; you can always ask (maybe there's a mentoring protocol in place, maybe not). 

In theory yes I am prepared since the recruiter found me suitable for the job, however I'm sure people still prepare somewhat for a job (e.g. if knowing they'll be working on a specific engine, they might brush up on how to use it), but maybe that's just me?

Coaching may have been the wrong way of putting it; I'm more curious for example how a supervisor might help you correct mistakes you make etc.

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2 hours ago, GreenGodDiary said:

I'm more curious for example how a supervisor might help you correct mistakes you make etc.

My crystal ball is unfortunately in the repair shop right now. It depends on whether it's a good company or a bad one - a good supervisor or a bad one.

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I did a week of training, writing some minimal rendering engine in OpenGL ES 2.0
Then I ran straight into work, 1st task was to create iOS builds work with XCode, up until that point I have never ever seen a person who saw an Apple machine (I saw once a person with an IPhone) so was inexperienced with that. I've only been working with Visual Studio until that point.
Then In an existing game I needed to write a support for a controller. The game was written by another studio and I worked alone. There was a lot of ActionScript for the UI, some objective C for the iOS cr*p, I really do not know how I managed to do it, but I did.
This was task wise. I've approached things slowly and focusing on understanding deeply only the things that are directly needed for the task.


Also I did not had any money, I had extremely little money for 2 weeks, and on my 1st day they dragged my into a restaurant and my money melted there. Thankfully a friend was able to give me a bit to survive those two weeks. So yeah, have that in mind, your new colleges might drag you into some place without knowing you financial situation.

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On 6/26/2019 at 4:13 PM, Tom Sloper said:

My crystal ball is unfortunately in the repair shop right now. It depends on whether it's a good company or a bad one - a good supervisor or a bad one.

Haha of course I'm not expecting you to know what my exact situation would be like.

On 6/26/2019 at 4:40 PM, ongamex92 said:

[...] I've approached things slowly and focusing on understanding deeply only the things that are directly needed for the task.

That's usually how I go about it as well though it may be the case that time does not allow for such deep understanding before getting the thing done.

On 6/26/2019 at 10:02 PM, Gnollrunner said:

Hopefully you won't be given thousands of lines of FORTRAN IV to port and debug like I was 😭

I've never seen or touched fortran but I'm sure your emoji is an accurate representation of what that would be like ;)

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On 6/26/2019 at 9:40 AM, ongamex92 said:

on my 1st day they dragged my into a restaurant and my money melted there.

That's fairly common to want to take the new guy out to lunch.

This is a place to be forward about it. You can state: "I want to meet everyone, but I've been between jobs and I cannot afford it right now."  Most people in the group (and ALL the senior people in the group) will understand, there is a very high chance they'll still take you to lunch with someone else paying for it.  People coming to a new job often were coming from a time of unemployment, tight belts, plus possibly the cost of a move or other major transition.  There is nothing wrong about it, nor should it be embarrassing. 

When we take people to lunch one of us senior people (often but not always me, sometimes multiple of us) will quietly ask the new person if they are in a position to afford going out to eat, and mention we'll gladly pay for their meal if they are short on cash.  Sometimes they'll take the offer up, other times they won't. 

 

As for starting work, they understand.  Everybody was a junior developer at some point.  Managers know it takes a few days to settle in, and is usually a few weeks before the person starts to make productive contributions.  Try to get running quickly, but at many companies the first day will be spent trying to get a workstation ready, plus signing a pile of papers. 

You'll generally have someone assigned to walk you through the entire process, and who will supervise your learning.  TAKE NOTES, bring a notepad and fill it up with details.  Ask questions, including asking if details are things you should write down for later use.

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Posted (edited)

Mind a related information from an independent game developer?

Well I never had a programming job, as I wanted to be a independent game developer since I was 9 years old. I started coding at 9, I am 29 now. Which means 20 years of coding experience.

So two points:

  • I have have been a manager at all times in my team as I founded, and my advice I can give is communicate, be polite, do not mind making mistakes and learning from them.
  • Note while old people can have more experience of life or profession, in some cases, no-one was born 50 years old. Just as a newborn has 0 life experiences, every coder started at 0 years of coding experience. We all learn. No matter the kind of mistake you have made, you can always bounce back from it. And you learnt something from it, as I have referred to in the first part of this list.
    10 hours ago, frob said:

    As for starting work, they understand.  Everybody was a junior developer at some point.  Managers know it takes a few days to settle in, and is usually a few weeks before the person starts to make productive contributions.  Try to get running quickly, but at many companies the first day will be spent trying to get a workstation ready, plus signing a pile of papers. 

     

Edited by Acosix
Added this topic's quote relevant to my second list element in my post

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On 6/26/2019 at 4:02 PM, Gnollrunner said:

Hopefully you won't be given thousands of lines of FORTRAN IV to port and debug like I was 😭

That was me...

My first day, they sat me down in front of a terminal and pointed at 4 shelf-feet of orange binders saying "That's the system documentation, and this is the only connection to the PDP.  Log to the MCR prompt in as [1,7] and good luck."  OK, maybe I made up the part about wishing me luck.  Maybe I hadn't been fully clear about my experience on PDP-11s (I used Unix, not RSX-11M).  I could handle it.

My first job was maintaining a legacy system written on FORTRAN IV.  Customer support calls started coming in the second week. One other person in the company admitted they knew the system, and she was a manager two levels up.

Kids, that's how real [INSERT PREFERRED GENDER] hit the ground running as junior programmers fresh out of school.  I managed to build on that experience to become an open source warrior (documentation? the code is the documentation!) for a couple of decades.

My advice: sit back and enjoy the ride.  It's what you wanted, right?

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