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I am a junior developer in South Africa. I just graduated from college last year. My current employers hired me as a developer but they do not give me anything to develop and I've been working here for 8 months now.

How I do become a better developer? How do I grow?

I do some development at home, but how can I get more exposure?

I have looked for another job, but that's not the point. I do not want to give up, I want to become a better developer. How can I improve my skills?

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Listen to podcasts, read blogs and books, write code. That's it. –  Robert Harvey Oct 12 '11 at 17:05
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never stop learning. –  zzzzBov Oct 12 '11 at 17:06
    
That's the thing, I never want to stop learning. But is it worth been over qualified but having no experience (putting it into practice)? I love programming, but I feel so lost in my career, so demotivated. –  d3adl0ck Oct 12 '11 at 17:10
    
once you become over qulified you can start applying to work at other places and just keep the year you worked at ur current employer for ur CV –  WojonsTech Oct 12 '11 at 17:15
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They are actually paying you to sit around for 8 months? Even if you are getting paid for doing nothing, this is actually time wasted. Look for a job that actually gets you some usable experience. –  MAK Oct 12 '11 at 18:03

4 Answers 4

up vote 13 down vote accepted

Write a program. To completion. Pick something that you wish you had a program for and write it. Then pick something else and write that. Read about programming. Then write another program, try to apply what you've read about to your program. Now pick a different language than what you have been using and rewrite your programs that you've written before. Then write some more programs. And read some more. Go to a Q&A site and find a question that you don't know the answer to. Solve it by programming. If you're on Linux, recreate the functionality of the built in shell commands one by one.

If you're on windows, recreate the functionality of the linux shell commands one by one.The important thing is that you keep programming.

I've answered a similar question before here. Check it out, I provide a list of recommended reading on there.

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WOW!!! Oh my gosh your so right!!! I have started small development... Learning as I go long, thanks so much Mike! –  d3adl0ck Oct 12 '11 at 17:17
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It amazes me that something that seems obvious can be so enlightening. –  Stargazer712 Oct 12 '11 at 17:46
    
LOL I only started programming! I am the only developer based at my location. –  d3adl0ck Oct 12 '11 at 17:55

Participate in a large open-source project. See how far you can get.

You'll be a better programmer in no time.

:]

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Hi A T, thanks. I will have to find such projects. –  d3adl0ck Oct 12 '11 at 17:07
    
@Pasha there are lots of open souce projects pick on that is in a lanauge that you already know so you dont feel like you are slowing them down. –  WojonsTech Oct 12 '11 at 17:22
    
@Pasha, I second this advice. It not only exercises your programming skills, but gives you experience in a practical real-world project that requires skills outside of just writing code (analyzing existing code, testing, collaboration, a wider exposure to problem domains, even "office" politics). This experience can help a resume, help you develop contacts in the industry, and might gain you some reputation, (or "whuffie"), which is a valuable asset in its own right. –  kylben Oct 12 '11 at 17:56
    
@Kylben, the only exercise I am able to do at the moment is either freelancing and working on my own projects at home. This is how I have been carrying on what I always wanted to. thanks alot for the advise! :) –  d3adl0ck Oct 12 '11 at 19:32

Have you considered where you could develop tools to help you with what you are asked to do? For example, if you are asked to collect a bunch of data perhaps you could write a script that does the collecting for you rather than manually doing the work of all the clicks to get the stuff.

Have you talked to your boss about what kind of development you want to be doing? Do they have a plan for how to get you into that?

Bottom line: Consider what is in your power as well as what do you see as development. Sometimes gathering requirements, testing and other stuff that may not be what some view as developing really are key points to the process.

Have you tried searching around here for "Be a better programmer" questions? For example, look at the answers to the following questions and yes there are lots of answers here:


While you work in a call center, is it possible for you to write scripts to automate various creation tasks you may be asked to do repeatedly? Could you automate how various reports are generated? You have to find a way to try and see what happens. While there is a case you may get in trouble, the idea is to try to find that balance as sometimes you may want to have some extra time somewhere that a little script here or an app there can give you. Sometimes it doesn't take that much time to do little things which is the idea here.


Sometimes the key can be finding a way to jump into a project. Could you help with testing what is being migrated from asp to C#? While you may not be a coder on it, could you take on other roles like being a business analyst or tester? Find a way to be useful as chances are you have to find or create the opportunities you want instead of expecting your boss to ask you, "Hey, could you build this app for us?" as that isn't likely to happen.

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Hi there JB King, I work at a call centre and I do mostly database administration. I have spoken to my boss about this and he told me that hw is trying to get me into more development exposure :[ I don not even have the time to start any development at work because of the small adhoc things that they give me... creating users, creating a questionnaire, pulling reports. This is all done in the back end. –  d3adl0ck Oct 12 '11 at 17:02
    
In your case I would try learning how the system works and see if you can on paper come up with a better method and purpose it to your boss why your method is better I am not sure if your working with mysql or what for the database but you may wanna look at the qeurys or something –  WojonsTech Oct 12 '11 at 17:21
    
hi there, im working on ms sql server. I write queries every minute of the day! I know how databases work left right centre. But I want to get more exposed, my boss doe not want to give me the a chance and develope he gave the senior developer from another town to migrate out current asp classic systems to c#. And I will not be involved. –  d3adl0ck Oct 12 '11 at 17:27
    
@JB King, I got my first verbal warning today for not showing initiative! I have tried to create a report on Logi (Reporting service tool) so it would help make my life easier so my boss can give me some development. But because its a call centre and we have systems already, I wont be involved in the migration from asp classic to C# because I am not experienced enough... How does one get experience if they are not exposed to any projects? –  d3adl0ck Oct 12 '11 at 17:30
    
Sounds like a good idea, I have asked them if I could develope an admin page, since its a call centre that would save me sooo much time. I've started brainstorming, but now once i do start developing the system there wont be any mid or senior developers checking if I am on the right track since I am the only junior developer situated at the location they put me in :) my boss wants to leave developing and become a project manager. But I have joined other forums like Source Code etc to help me if I am stuck on coding. –  d3adl0ck Oct 12 '11 at 17:48

Practice: Do code kata and practice code exercises.

Broaden: Learn new language: procedural, object orientation, functional, scripts, etc...

Depth: Get books (and read them!) on programming: design patterns, algorithms, data structures, etc...

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