Every day, we help hundreds of students on their journey to becoming a developer in the high-paying, fast-growing tech industry. However, many people thinking about learning to code aren’t sure what developer work looks like. So what does a software developer do all day? Tafadazwa Gonera, a front-end developer at HyperionDev, tells us about a day on the job, and the developer work he does on a daily basis.
Before the day begins: catch up, set up, and warm up
Every morning in the developer world starts just like it does in any other job: I check my email, catch up on the progress of team projects, and get ready for the day’s work ahead. We work in large, diverse teams, so a good project management tool, like Trello or Basecamp, is critical for keeping all the different teams and tasks working together smoothly.
Once I know the status of our projects and how my team members are getting along, I decide on a few key tasks to dedicate myself to during the day. This keeps me accountable, and gives me clear, high-priority goals to work towards and hopefully complete by the end of the day.
However, I don’t dive immediately into fixing bugs or building web elements. Coding is a little like sport: you’ve gotta warm up a bit. So before starting on my main tasks for the day, I run through a few coding exercises on Hackerrank or Code Chef, to brush up on my problem solving skills. It’s so important for a developer to focus on the fundamentals, especially programming language constructs that aren’t tied to a language, for example data structures, algorithms, design patterns, the art of writing clean code, and loops. A lot of people don’t spend enough time honing these critical skills that are fundamental to coding.
Sometimes I’ll spend maybe half an hour or so learning about new and useful programming tools on official developer forums, community developer platforms like StackOverflow, or on subreddits that focus on programming.
What I usually work on during a typical workday
The nice thing about developer work is that you’re always solving new and interesting problems. The tasks I work on during a typical day are always changing, depending on what the company is up to (like launching a new jobs portal, or revamping the student dashboard), but in general I work in a space that neatly joins front end website development with my career experience in SEO and brand engagement.
At the heart of my job is one important function: I build clean, high-performance user interfaces and create engaging user experiences that help our company attract students, that help students learn coding without any interruptions. I have other responsibilities, too: I advise managers on technical implementations, SEO, user experience and web analytics, which all play an important role in the kind of front end developer work I do. And that really answers the heart of the question -”what does a software developer do?”
Developer work is both rewarding and challenging. Early on in my career, I transitioned to front end development in less than a week. Learning a new set of languages in such a short time was incredibly challenging, but the things I learned are tools I now use every day. This personal experience is why I highly recommend people take an active interest in education and improving their coding. You never know when these new skills will suddenly become mission-critical.
Developer work is also work that I love. I love creating something that has immeasurable impact in real time, in a tangible way, out of thin air. I think that coding is as much of a creative endeavour as it is technical, and man, does it feel good to create real, working things that people use every day.
The most important thing I’ve learned in my developer work is balance. You can get too much of a good thing: there are a lot of memes and talk about crunch, and spending hours in a flow state writing reams of code, but this can be a trap that’s bad for both your health, and the integrity of the code you write. Early on in my career I would spend my evenings studying and learning but that burns you out quickly and leaves you less inspired.
At this stage of my career, I spend my evenings after work relaxing. I read news from around the world, watching interesting content on YouTube (Dave Chapelle’s channel is a favourite of mine), or simply listening to classical music or Mali desert blues. I also enjoy chit-chat with family and friends.
If you’re thinking about learning how to code, and finding your own developer job, I say go for it. It’s challenging work, a rewarding career space – and I can promise that you won’t be bored a single day on the job.
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