Four Tips for Starting Your First Development Job Remotely

I recently found myself in a scary situation: graduating from college and starting a new job in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic. As if starting a new job and readjusting from college life to work life weren’t stressful enough, I now had to make that adjustment remotely.

Fortunately, I found myself starting at a company with people who were able to help me every step of the way. Here are a few things that have helped me through this process.

1. Check in with a Mentor Frequently

Getting stuck on a problem is a part of every developer’s job, but it’s especially common as a new developer. Working in an office allows you the luxury of being able to walk up to a more experienced developer and ask for help, but that isn’t as easy when everyone is working from home (and needs to stay six feet apart). This can result in feeling stuck, as someone isn’t immediately visible to you.

An easy solution is to plan frequent check-ins with a stack of questions ready to go. You don’t even need to plan them very far in advance; just send out a message asking for some help at a mentor’s earliest convenience.

2. Keep in Touch With Other Junior Developers

It’s easy to feel like you’re alone when trying to adapt to your new work life, especially if you can’t see other junior developers going through the same thing. Finding some time to connect with other junior developers within your organization can help.

You can create a space in which you feel comfortable venting and sharing advice. This shared camaraderie can help you see the big picture and feel more grounded in the work you are doing.

3. Establish a Morning Routine

When “going to work” simply means rolling out of bed and firing up your computer, it can be difficult to maintain a routine that allows you to stay mentally energized, especially when you’re fresh out of college and haven’t had the opportunity to establish a working routine in the first place.

Put effort into creating a consistent routine that you can follow every morning to help you fully wake up and mentally prepare yourself for the day. For example, wake up at the same time every morning, get dressed (sorry, boxer briefs won’t cut it — even if your co-workers can’t see below your waistline), eat a quick breakfast, and take a quick walk around the block.

Anything that creates a buffer between sleep and work will help you feel refreshed and motivated while working.

4. Minimize Distractions

As a new developer, you won’t have much experience staying focused for eight hours a day when working in an environment with plenty of distractions. While working from home might at first seem distraction-free, it very frequently is the opposite.

Things that might help you stay focused and distraction-free include working in a spot in your home that gets the least amount of foot traffic (if you live with others), trying to keep pets elsewhere during working hours (if possible), turning off the TV, listening to music only at a quiet level (or not at all), and keeping your phone out of arm’s reach.

What tips do you have for easing the transition into remote work? Share them in the comments below!