Now you find yourself at the point where the real hard work begins. Starting a new role is daunting, especially if it’s your first tech role.

But fear not - we’ve got your back! In this blog, we’ll give you tips and tricks for making the most of your first year in tech.

Learn to deal with imposter syndrome

Once you start your first tech role, it will quickly become apparent that you have a lot to learn - and there’s always someone who knows more than you. You may feel like you’re out of your depth, or even that you don’t belong in the role. This is called ‘imposter syndrome’ and it has been estimated it’s affected up to 82% of people at some point in their careers, so don’t worry - you’re not alone.

Learning to not let imposter syndrome hold you back is one of the key skills to learn in your first year in tech. Remember, there’s a reason you’re there, and nobody expects you to come into your first role with all the answers. Rather than letting your doubt overwhelm you, try to use them as motivation to learn and further your skills. If you show a willingness to learn and grow and an openness to rectifying your mistakes you’ll be surprised just how quickly your skills improve!

Haystack’s Software Engineer Gwen believes this is key to thriving in your first tech role. She says:

“Try not to get bogged down in imposter syndrome. Compare yourself to where you were a few months ago to see your progress.”

Keep a journal of your achievements

It can be easy to lose sight of how far you’ve come, or just how much you've improved, particularly on a bad day. Keeping a journal of your big achievements, or anything you’ve been proud of in your first role, can help you to keep perspective (and fight off imposter syndrome!). You can then review this when you need a reminder of just how far you’ve come. 

It’s also useful when it comes to your reviews. It can help guide discussions around promotion and pay rises with your employer, as you have a record of where you’ve made a difference to the business. Focus on the positives and celebrate the progress and improvements you’ve made.  This is also known as a brag document and you can find help setting one up here.

Our Senior Software Engineer Holger believes this helped him during his first tech role. He said:

“Keep notes on what you're doing, don't try to keep everything in your head.”

An empty chair at a desk, with a laptop on showing lines of code

Develop strong relationship with your peers

A strong relationship with your co-workers could be the key to making your first year in tech a lot easier for you. Prioritise getting to know your colleagues on a personal level and embedding yourself within the team. 

The famous saying “it’s not what you know, it’s who you know” is particularly accurate in tech - a strong relationship with those around you will make any projects you work on together much easier, and people are more likely to be forthcoming when you seek advice or help from them. If you start to feel overwhelmed with everything that’s going to be thrown at you, it’s good to have a mentor or a shoulder to lean on. Working together with those around you will make your first year much easier!

Keep it simple

There can be a temptation in any new role to try and show off everything you know. This isn’t what employers are looking for - displaying tenacity and effective problem solving will create a much better impression. Remember, you are being paid for the quality of your code, not the quantity. 

Listen to what’s expected of you and required for the job at hand and proactively try and solve that issue. You are being paid to solve problems quickly and efficiently, and the most efficient way to solve problems is usually the simplest. It’s inevitable you’ll be wanting to give the best impression of yourself -  don’t lose sight of the fact that the quickest way to impress will be through quick and efficient solutions to any issue you are presented with.

Remember what you’re trying to achieve

Keeping perspective of what you’re ultimately trying to achieve will help you through your first year in tech. It is highly unlikely that the first opportunity you land is going to be your dream role - like any job, there’s going to be aspects you don’t enjoy and you’re not going to be tasked with fixing the most complicated and interesting problems in your first few months. 

This is the first step of a long journey - learn as much as you can from it, and use the aspects of the job you don’t like as motivation to push you towards that dream role.

You’re not expected to know everything - ask for help!

You’re not expected to know everything! It will quickly become apparent that everything you’ve learnt, be it education or self-taught, can only prepare you for the world of work so far, and it is inevitable there will be gaps in your knowledge when you arrive at your first role. 

Don’t be afraid to ask people around you for help, as it is in everyone's interest to get you up to speed as quickly as possible. This also ties in to the relationship building we previously mentioned, as people who you have a strong relationship with are more likely to give you a hand. You’re there to learn, and so you should see any gap in your knowledge as an opportunity to further this learning. You can also help yourself by using some of your free time to brush up on old skills and learn new ones. Whilst work-life balance is very important, a little sacrifice can make your first year (and beyond) much easier. Keep sight of the fact you’re not expected to know everything and use it as motivation to get to where you want to be! 

Our Software Engineer Matt sums it up nicely:

“​​You will never know everything and that’s ok. You have a team for a reason.”

Focus on the positives

You’ll quickly realise that in any job, there’s going to be good days and bad days. This can be difficult to deal with in your first role, as you can be left wondering if it’s down to something you’ve done wrong. If you can keep focused on the positives, rather than letting yourself get bogged down in the negatives, it will make your first year in tech much easier. 

There will be days where nothing goes right, or you just can’t figure out why something won’t work, and you may feel under pressure to solve it quickly which can only exacerbate the problem. Learning how to cope with this is important.

Haystack Software Engineer Sharon advises you should:

“Take a break, go for a walk, even just explain your problem to someone and you'll probably find that you solve the problem in a lot less time than if you keep staring at the code for hours”. 

If you can keep a positive mindset, particularly in the face of adversity, you’ll make your first year much easier for yourself!

Still applying for your first tech role? Check out our interview tips here!

Ultimately, remember you’ve been employed over all the other applicants for a reason. If you can make the most of your first year, you’ll set yourself up nicely on the path to your dream tech role. Learn as much as you can, solve problems effectively and stay positive and you’ll soon be looking back wondering what all the worry was about!

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