As a starting developer at El Niño, you learn something new every day. What I learned in my first month is that not knowing something is not a bad thing, it is an opportunity to learn.
I am now working at El Niño as a developer for over 2 months and I already learned so much. When I got offered a job at El Niño I, of course, took the opportunity! As a second year creative technology student with a passion for software engineering, this was a perfect opportunity to gain and apply my skills in practice. Understanding the theory is one, but being able to apply it is a whole other profession. Of course, you have projects at school that teach you to apply theory but still, they are not really the ‘’real deal’’. They are often too focused on applying specific theory and skills for a large group of people and almost never show how it is really done in practice.
After 2 days of training, I already got my first real assignment. To add extra functionality to an existing web application. This was a real job for a real customer and I was super excited that I could already work on something that really matters. I got my briefing, read the requests of the customer and I opened the project. Then I saw the PHP code, the structure, the use of frameworks, controllers, and models. I realized this is next level code we’re talking about. This was much more advanced than what I learned at school so far. I was impressed at how this application worked and I was like “Let’s do this!”
The application was build using the Codeigniter framework. Nowadays we use Symfony as our main PHP framework but this was an older project that still uses Codeigniter. The structure was logical and it was easier to learn than I thought. I made a plan and I started coding. All the things I needed to learn I would learn on the fly while completing my task.
Don’t be afraid to make mistakes
As a straight-A student, I am used to doing my work as good as possible. But of course, when you are doing something for the first time, you will make mistakes. That’s normal and you will learn from them. The great thing at work is that there are so many talented people around to learn from. Every day I am at work I learn something new. Just trying and not being afraid to take on a challenge has learned me so much in a very short period of time. Just being able to ask a colleague for help or to discuss your ideas with them is one of the most important things for a starting professional.
Expectations and reality
As a starting professional don’t expect to already know everything and also don’t be afraid to learn something new or take on the challenge. The thing I learned is that sometimes things might look very complex at first but as long as you want it and work hard, things are not as complex or hard as you thought, but actually really logic. That’s the big difference of learning something at school and learning something at work. At school, you learn theory and apply this theory in making exercises or in doing projects. At work, you start with a problem that needs to be solved and you use the theory and your knowledge to solve this problem as efficient and good as possible. This makes the theory so much more ‘’tangible’’ and easier to understand. It also gives a good feeling to apply your profession for something useful.
Do not only wait for opportunities, make them
If you are a student I would really recommend to get a job in your profession. Especially for a university student with no or very little space for internships in your study program. It might cost you a lot of time but it repays you in so many ways. It gives you the opportunity to learn new things, apply your knowledge, get a feeling of what you would like to do after you graduate, it looks good on your resume and you will enlarge your professional network and your chances of getting a cool job after you graduate.
In conclusion, don’t be afraid to take opportunities, get a job, learn something new every day and become the best in what you do!