React Christmas

5 things I have learned in my first months as a React Native developer

A 3 minute read written by
Marte Dybendal Gleditsch
14.12.2019

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Hi, my name is Marte and I decided five montsh ago that I wanted to pursue a career within front-end development to get closer to the products and users. At that point in time I was working with strategy and business development, which I also studied for six years. The journey that has led me from being a management consultant to a developer has been filled with confusion, feeling of achievement, stupid questions, not so stupid questions, bad code and good code. And it is true what they say; the learning curve is steep! I will take you through some of the learnings I have encountered during my first months as a developer.

Online courses are helpful, but not everything

When I first started this process, I was determined to complete several online courses in detail. I invested a vast amount in time in it, and felt I got a good basis knowledge as a result. However, there is a problem with this kind of easy learning. Firstly, it may encourage passive consumption and gives the illusion of learning without any practical experience. Secondly, it avoids the real lessons that come with hard learning and stepping outside the comfort zone: The sooner you get your hands dirty and move yourself on deep water, the sooner your capabilities as a developer grows (as with most things in life I guess).

You can learn whatever you set your mind to

Most people will say it is not possible to become a developer in 3 months. Yes, you can learn to develop, but being a stand-alone developer requires years of deliberate practice. However, this statement might prevent non-technical people pursuing an interest in tech simply because they believe it will take them years before they are able to deliver value again. I believe you can learn anything you set your mind to do if you have the interest, motivation and the end goal in mind, and it might not take as long as you think. What is certain is that you become good at what you do eight hours every day when you are surrounded by highly skilled people and are being challenged with tasks gradually increasing in complexity.

The key is to focus on a few learning objectives

Attacking the developer world, you can get stunned by the amount of different languages, libraries and frameworks. And surely you are not able to learn everything. Especially if you are like me; new to the “developer world”. Something that was important to me at start, was, together with experienced developers and the world wide web, to set a plan for which languages, libraries, and frameworks I would prioritize to give me relevant knowledge for the market in Norway and Bekk’s customers. I simply ignored the rest and solely focused on acquiring a handful of skills. Furthermore, it was important to attack them in the right and logical order to build knowledge brick-by-brick.

Assuming that if things are working then things are right

A fundamental difference between developing in an unprofessional versus a professional setting, is the requirement for quality and performance of the code. As a beginner you are simply happy about your code working. However, the difference between being able to code and writing good, understandable, and proper tested code with high quality, is huge. Regarding this, I believe I will continue to learn something new every day for the rest of my development career. Both from my co-workers and from an industry in continuous evolvement.

Taking breaks will make you more efficient

As a management consultant, my workday would naturally be broken up by meetings and workshops every other hour. As a developer, the frequency of meetings is lower, which allows you to sit stationary at your desk for hours. However, your brain needs breaks. I find myself often in the zone and thus forget to take breaks. This leads me to feeling all boiled up at the end of the day and I might as well have used more time than necessary on problem solving or in fact written useless code. My mind is a bit contradictory on this. I often avoid taking breaks because I want to get things done, at the same time as I am fully aware that you are much more efficient with a fresh and clear mind. As a solution, I have tried to integrate measures in my workday that mitigate hours of continuous working. For example, filling up my water bottle on the other side of the building every hour or working out in the lunch break. This enables me to return to coding with fresh eyes and recharged brain power 👀💪🏼.

You made it through the whole post. That deserves a break!

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