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My first 3 months as a Graduate Software Developer at Runninghill Software Development

by Jandre Kritzinger
Published on: 6/29/2023

I am a graduate in B.Sc. IT from the North West University, and I have been fortunate enough to find work at Runninghill Software Development. It has been a challenging, eye opening, and fun first 3 months. In this blog I will give an overview of my experience, and give some of my insights as to what I would have done differently had I known what I do now. We all have to start somewhere, and I hope that this blog might find someone who is also in the first phase of their career, and that they might find some solace in the fact that they are not on their own, and don’t go through their own unique struggles alone. 

I attended High School Wesvalia in Klerksdorp, after going through primary school in Pretoria at a school 5 times larger. After sifting through the three different agriculture subjects the school offered, I found that they also serve IT as a subject from grade 10. I knew that I would much rather cultivate code than crops, and from the moment I touched Delphi I knew that I wanted to become a software developer. Since then I have been heavily invested in everything tech related. Little did I know what I was getting myself into, the world of software is massive and ever-changing!

Bootcamp

The first few weeks at Runninghill were especially challenging because I was learning new technologies and frameworks, and getting used to the company culture. It felt like everything I did at University was useless for the first two weeks, considering the Bootcamp projects were focused around Angular and Node, two things I have never even heard of before. Then, after learning to ask questions and getting comfortable with the people in the company, I started finding my feet and realizing that University prepared me in other ways for the work environment. The content of the Bootcamp was very thorough and granular, and the end goal was a bit vague, however I see this as a good thing because it forced us to innovate and ask questions to pave our way toward reaching our goals in Angular and Node during the Bootcamp. By the end of the first month, I had learned concepts like the single responsibility principle, how to make a front end and a back end communicate with each other, and how to not throw a laptop because of my 100th CSS iteration still not looking just right.

I am a software developer now?

Technical Skills

After the first month most of the grads got moved to different teams across the company working with different clients and projects. In my case, the team and project I moved to was working with Angular, so I was immediately thrust into an environment where I needed to use the things I learned in the Bootcamp.

It didn’t take me long to realize that I still know nothing.

Then I started working with seniors and juniors, suddenly it was no longer me working alone on a vaguely outlined Bootcamp project, but I was working on enterprise code. It was scary, but also very exciting. As I am writing this blog now, I realize that I asked way too few questions. Had I known what I know now, I would not have stopped asking questions. If you take one single thing away from this blog, let it be that you should never make assumptions in an environment where you are not proficient in the tech. Ask questions, be annoying sometimes, it will benefit you and the company if you can upskill yourself as efficiently as possible.

Soft Skills

When entering a new project, especially one that has been behind schedule for two years, you are bound to experience some strenuous environments at some point. Being a graduate at my first job and my first client, I think I have experienced a very broad spectrum of moods and personalities during my first three months. It has made the importance of soft skills so much more apparent! Being able to take blame when you know you have done something wrong, but also being able to defend yourself in a diplomatic and politically correct way without raising the tension, is such a valuable skill to learn and it is something that comes with time, experience and trial and error. To build your brand and your career, you need to be more than technically brilliant. You have to be able to manage people, personalities, moods and expectations. Do not underestimate the importance of your soft skills!

Personal Development

While these first three months went by in the blink of an eye, reflecting on what I have learned and experienced makes it feel like I have aged three years. It has been so insightful, so rich in opportunities to learn, and ultimately a very good experience. I am grateful for the environment Runninghill creates that gives every individual a platform and the resources necessary to grow in every aspect of your personal development.
In conclusion, being a Graduate Software Developer at a very highly functioning company like Runninghill means you will be thrown into the deep end with some things, but Runninghill also provides you with ample resources to keep your head above water. Leverage those resources, ask your questions, and build yourself and your career. I will leave you with a Chinese proverb that helped me stay calm when I felt I was moving too slowly: “The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.”

WRITTEN BY

Jandre Kritzinger

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