10 Сareer Mistakes To Avoid as Beginners in IT
When embarking on your first job in IT, keep in mind that mistakes are almost inevitable for beginners. Rest assured, this truth spans across all fields, regardless of your chosen path. NIX experts have compiled a list of common career mistakes you must avoid as junior developers, along with tips for improvement to get ahead in your career.
1. Hesitating about Your Chosen Path
If you find yourself diving into HTML one day, Java Core the next, and hunting for bugs the day after that, it’s easy to lose focus and motivation. Don’t let uncertainty slow you down.
Tip: Base your choice on these simple criteria: “I enjoy it,” “I have the potential for it,” and “it holds promising opportunities.” Trust your instincts and invest your time in gaining valuable knowledge 😉
2. Rushing Through Learning
The desire to acquire everything quickly is common. However, adopting the strategy of “I’ll complete the entire course in a week and then head to work” is a wrong tactic. Such an approach results in superficial knowledge.
Tip: Just as constructing a sturdy house necessitates a solid foundation, mastering a profession demands a robust knowledge and skill base. Dedicate time to thorough study to build your expertise.
3. Knowledge overload or lack of knowledge
Newcomers often fall into two extremes – either not learning enough or becoming overly fixated on a single aspect. Striving for complete mastery from the outset can backfire, dampening your enthusiasm for learning. Conversely, an excess of information amidst theoretical concepts only leads to confusion. Additionally, novice limitations in English and math skills can be concerning. Some are afraid of pursuing a career path in IT due to perceived shortcomings, while others confidently challenge the stereotype imposed by school teachers and venture onto the IT path.
Tip: While English proficiency is crucial in IT, junior developers don’t need not possess native-like fluency. Start working and concurrently learn a foreign language. Companies frequently provide language courses to new team members, allowing for gradual improvement.
4. Focus on studying specific topics rather than technology in general
This mistake isn’t always immediately apparent. Let’s illustrate it with a web developer example. Often, developers gravitate toward tasks involving significant data processing, databases, and algorithms. However, in their role, they cannot limit themselves solely to backend tasks; they also need to comprehend frontend aspects.
Moreover, we should address the hesitation to explore beyond one’s chosen field. You won’t confuse yourself by simultaneously understanding interconnected languages and technologies. The crucial aspect lies in establishing these connections accurately. In today’s landscape, it’s highly uncommon for a single language or programming approach to exclusively dominate development.
Tip: To grasp the logic of a language or technology and determine where to initiate learning, follow these steps:
- Gather fundamental information about the technologies, basic concepts, and terminology.
- Commence practical exercises—through online courses, forum problems, assignments, etc.
- Analyze code from open sources and scrutinize the evolution of tasks executed by fellow developers.
- Join thematic social media pages, chats, and join discussions there.
5. Procrastination and the challenges organizing the learning process
This issue arises from struggles with effective planning and the fear of making mistakes or falling short of perfection.
Tip: In most cases, a beginner’s failures will not lead to a disaster at the company level. As a junior developer, the team understands this and considers it even when mistakes occur. Strive for progress rather than absolute perfectionism; tackle complex tasks to gain better understanding. Structure your workday with time blocks for task completion. Embrace the idea of progress rather than aiming for unattainable perfection.
6. Overlooking the value of free educational resources
This common mistake often occurs early in one’s career, with individuals underestimating the potential of such content. A prevalent misconception is that since a course is free, it must lack quality. It might appear that the amount of information provided isn’t sufficient for gaining a comprehensive understanding of a technology or tool. Of course, it’s important to discern and rely solely on reputable sources.
Tip: If you’re uncertain about which resource to choose, seek guidance from your mentor or more experienced colleagues. Fellow IT professionals can also suggest tried-and-true and genuinely valuable resources on forums.
Find valuable insight from these blogs and articles:
- NIX’s educational resources
- Towards Data Science Inc.
Additionally, these resources offer an array of courses, including free options, that will help beginners to better understand a specific topic or technology in general:
7. Evaluate your development solely based on completed tasks
The notion that completing a task flawlessly equates to success is a common misconception among beginners. However, neglecting to filter tasks through a wider perspective and failing to seek guidance from mentors can lead to future debugging challenges.
Tip: To develop strategic thinking and hard skills, you shouldn’t limit yourself to work-related tasks. Take on a pet project – a project that you have “ordered” for yourself. Don’t limit your imagination. This way you can gain new experience faster. First of all, determine the reasons for your pet project. What challenges will it solve? What will you try to optimize, or what will you create? There are a lot of benefits here. You can improve your skills, raise awareness, find a new solution, just practice, or make some technical solution for your portfolio. By the way, these are the projects where you can learn not to be afraid to make mistakes, learn how to correct them and get ahead in your career.
Here are some resources where you can discover tasks to enhance your programming proficiency and foster algorithmic thinking:
- LeetCode: Offering tasks across 14 prominent programming languages, this platform categorizes tasks by difficulty level and showcases others’ achievements.
- Codewars: Providing short tutorials for over 55 programming languages, each solution can be compared with community results to validate code accuracy.
8. Self-doubt and fear of IT career mistakes
Phrases like ‘I can’t do this,’ ‘competition is fierce,’ or ‘a misstep could jeopardize my job’ stem from apprehension and fear. These thoughts prevent beginners from embracing creativity, exploring unconventional solutions, and progressing. Creativity has a pivotal role in IT, encompassing both technical and non-technical dimensions. Hence, juniors face a choice: either embrace growth or yield to fear.
Another significant thing is the reluctance to seek guidance from experienced colleagues. One might think, ‘Asking questions will expose my lack of knowledge.’ However, this mindset is counterproductive and can hinder your improvement, regardless of your potential. Sure, hiding that you don’t know something might work at first. But if you don’t ask questions, you won’t really understand the topic. Then, small misunderstandings build up, and you won’t become good at it.
Tip: Requesting assistance demonstrates your commitment to professional enhancement. Even professionals possess gaps in their knowledge. They excel in certain aspects but remain susceptible to mistakes. Thus, do not hesitate—pose queries to your colleagues, alleviating uncertainty.
9. Lack of understanding of the types of IT companies, their advantages and limitations for growth
The belief that prestigious companies only hire experienced individuals, prompting some to opt for startup experience, is not unfounded. While startups provide valuable experience, discerning the pros and cons of different company types is essential. Often, smaller teams demand immediate expertise, while larger teams invest in employee training. The more specialists and experts there are, the more diverse the projects, the more opportunities to learn. Only large companies will offer retraining courses to newcomers who have not yet decided on what career steps to follow.
Product or outsourcing company?
We advocate for beginners leaning toward the latter. The “entry threshold” is more accessible here. However, this is not the sole argument:
Service companies present more opportunities for skill refinement. Companies of this type usually provide services to clients from different business sectors. Employees have the opportunity to work on several projects and technologies. This allows them to enrich their experience and master different tools. As a result, you will gain flexible skills that will come in handy regardless of your chosen field in IT.
An outsourcing company gives you the opportunity to work on projects of varying complexity. This will prepare a beginner for new challenges, teach them to look at the problem from different angles and find unique solutions.
Product companies have their advantages too:
- Stable work with long-term projects.
- The opportunity to become an expert in a specific technical area or business domain.
- In-depth involvement in product development without diversion.
- Work with cutting-edge technologies, as product companies usually strive to be at the forefront of technological progress.
- The opportunity to work with multicultural teams and learn from their experience.
Tip 1: If you initially chose a product company, simultaneously explore other areas and build your IT network. This ensures global market relevance and a comprehensive grasp of industry needs. Becoming overly specialized within a single product bears the risk of limiting your expertise to one company.and develop your networking in the IT community at the same time.
Tip 2: If you didn’t get an interview with, for example, 10 specialists, don’t think that you will be rejected by a company of 1000+. In the first case, you are either a good fit or not. Often there is no time and resources to retrain juniors. Instead, big business is ready to pull you up. Such companies are open to anyone who wants to learn from their experts and implement the knowledge gained in projects.
10. Trying to grow to mid-level as quickly as possible
Having ambition and goals is great, but it’s just as important to approach them the right way. Beginners often find it hard to plan their growth step by step and figure out the right order to achieve what they want. Fortunately, sizeable teams typically offer newcomers a skill-up plan. For instance, at NIX each junior had a personal plan made by a department head, a mentor, or a group leader. This mentorship aligns individuals in the right direction, answers queries, navigates challenges, and overall, monitors skill enhancement.
Tip: First, become a confident junior before you start thinking about moving up . A good rule to follow is: “Think globally, act locally”.
Career mistakes have been made. What comes next?
Mistakes are a natural part of growth, and the best aspect about them is that they can be fixed. It’s perfectly normal if you notice any of the above. To minimize or prevent the number of career mistakes at the start, define your career goals clearly. Mastery will not be achieved overnight. Regular practice, resilience, and patience are the keys to success. Be honest with yourself, admit your mistakes, and move forward.