The missing manual for ambitious software engineers.

A practical guide to self-confidence, personal growth, teamwork, learning, communication, and delivering results—the soft skills that every programmer needs to succeed in their job.

Language: English
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Junior to Senior

Career Advice for the Ambitious Programmer

by David Glassanos

As a programmer, you’ve spent plenty of time learning technical and programming skills. But writing code is only half of our job as software developers. Junior engineers—and even some who have been in it a long time—rightfully focus on “hard” technical skills a lot of the time. But it’s equally essential for developers to cultivate the soft skills critical for adding value for their company, their customers, and their career—and it’s often neglected.

Junior to Senior is one of only a few books that gives practical advice on the soft skills needed to thrive as an engineer:

  • Dealing with lack of confidence
  • Learning from others and by reading unfamiliar code
  • Managing your time
  • Communicating clearly with business stakeholders and writing clear documentation
  • Understanding different ways to add value for a company and its customers
  • Managing risks and recovering from mistakes
  • Dealing with conflict
  • Balancing work and personal life

…and so much more.

Improvements in these areas are important milestones on the journey from junior to senior software developer. Junior to Senior is filled with insights, from one engineer to another, to guide you along that path.

Whether you studied Computer Science, graduated from a coding bootcamp, or are a self-taught programmer, this book will help you manage yourself, build value, and earn the confidence of your team to take on roles with greater responsibility and impact.

Rachel JepsenEditor
Joshua LevyEditor
About the Author
David Glassanos
David Glassanos is a seasoned software developer with over a decade of experience building successful consumer and enterprise products for international brands. David started his career in Silicon Valley at Mertado, an e-commerce startup acquired by Groupon in 2012. While at Groupon, he built systems to personalize emails delivered to 100 million inboxes each day. From there he joined NatureBox as an early employee, and helped grow revenues to $50 million annually. Since then he has helped build products and engineering teams in the e-signature, co-working, and transportation telematics industries. As a way to give back to the developer communities that have helped him succeed, he advises junior software developers on career growth, effective communication, soft-skills, and work-life balance.

Table of Contents

Who This Book Is For
What Is Covered
Growing Your Career
Your Engineering Path
Generalist vs. Specialist
Your Leadership Path
It’s a Marathon, Not a Sprint
Go at Your Own Pace
What Makes You a Senior Engineer?
Different Meanings
Time Management
Attention to Detail
Engineering Excellence
Team-First Approach
Job Level Matrix
You’re Not An Imposter
It’s a Feeling, Not a Syndrome
Identify the Gaps in Your Knowledge
Dealing with Criticism
Track Your Accomplishments
Working With Your Manager
Build Trust
Understand Their Management Style
Learn to Manage Up
Dealing with Conflict
How to Recover From Mistakes
Everyone Makes Mistakes
What to Do During an Incident
Murphy’s Law
Take Accountability
Post Mortems
How to Learn From Others
Your Most Valuable Resource
How to Ask Better Questions
How to Learn From Co-Workers
How to Learn From Reading Code
How to Read Unfamiliar Code
Find the Entry Point
Leverage Your IDE
The Blame Game
Check the History
Step Through the Code
Tests Give You Context
Expect Dead Ends
Don’t Try to Grasp the Entire Codebase
How To Add Value
Solve Pain Points for Your Customers
Improve Company Productivity
Ship Code that Increases Revenue
Ship Code that Reduces Cost
Leverage Technical Debt
Automate Recurring Processes
Add Value without Writing Code
How To Manage Risk
Over-Engineering vs. Under-Engineering
Refactoring vs. Incremental Changes
Divide and Conquer
Planning Ahead
Code Reviews
Automated Tests
Validate Inputs
How to Deliver Better Results
Perfect Software Doesn’t Exist
Time Management
Know Your Tools
Find a Process that Works for You
Solve the Problem First
Take Ownership
How to Communicate Effectively
Communication Isn’t Just “Saying Something”
The Golden Rule
Know Your Audience
Don’t Communicate Through Other People
Writing Skills
Speaking Skills
Listening Skills
Prepare Ahead for Meetings
Dealing with Conflicts
Wrapping Up
Work-Life Balance For Programmers
Time Is Your Most Valuable Resource
More Hours != More Productivity
The Work Will Always Be There
Side Projects
Friends & Family
Take Care of Yourself

Does this sound like you?

I just started my first job as a programmer and I’m overwhelmed with how much there is to learn. How can I show my team and my manager that I’m a valuable asset to the company?
As a Computer Science undergrad who will be graduating this year, what should I expect in my first job and what can I do to prepare for it?
After three years as a junior programmer I feel like I’m ready for a Senior Software Engineer position. What skills should I focus on to demonstrate that I deserve a promotion?
I’m a self-taught programmer who struggles with imposter syndrome. How do I build trust and prove to my teammates that I’m capable?

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