Growing my career through the Junior Developer Program: Elissa

Development · Mar 25, 2021

A typical day in the life of a developer consists of many things - whether it’s discussing possibilities for upcoming projects with designers or collaborating during code review with fellow developers, our purpose is clear: to provide our digital customers with a seamless experience from start to finish. As you can imagine, doing so involves many moving pieces and tons of teamwork; it can be a lot to learn for anyone, especially someone who is new to the field.

Prior to joining TELUS Digital, I had just graduated from a coding boot camp in the midst of the first COVID-19-related lockdown in March 2020. The thought of landing a position after only three months of schooling in a seemingly dwindling job market felt daunting, to say the least. Most postings (including entry-level positions) required a minimum of one to two years of experience, so when I discovered TELUS’ new Junior Developer Program (JDP) made specifically for recent graduates, I applied immediately. 

The entire hiring process was performed remotely and consisted of a phone screening and two virtual interviews (one for the technical side and one for the behavioural side). Any pre-interview jitters I had dissipated shortly into my conversations with the interviewers, who made it clear that their intentions were to help new developers adapt to the working world. No trick questions - just a genuine interest in my background as a digital marketer and how my passion for web development came to be. Even after such a positive (and successful!) interview, I still felt a degree of imposter syndrome during the weeks leading up to my first day. I worried that I was underqualified to join such a large and reputable organization without any professional experience in the field. 

Junior Developer Program: a stepping stone for new developers

While I knew the intent of the JDP program was to help transition new developers into working professionals, it wasn’t until I started that I fully understood the extent to which TELUS Digital was committed to this. To start, I learned on my first day that a total of eight junior developers (including myself) were hired as part of the inaugural JDP cohort. This alone was already a huge step forward for the company as only 9% of existing team members were considered to be juniors at the time. Although the eight of us come from very diverse backgrounds, it was easy to relate to one another over our shared interest in web development and our excitement to be part of such a supportive company. 

During our introductory session, program managers Sareena Motwane and Mike Bunce walked us through the structure and schedule for the first six months. The curriculum itself is 12 months long, with the first half focusing on front-end development followed by a second half focusing on back-end development. Every Tuesday and Thursday we are scheduled to attend a learning session, each two hours long. While these classes are generally led by senior-level developers across the company, a handful of classes are taught by local web development bootcamp instructors. Sessions are delivered online through Google Meets and recorded for easy reference in the future. In addition to this, we are allowed up to four hours per week (two hours per session attended) for further self-learning or review - a luxury I have not taken for granted! 

Having successfully completed the front-end portion of the program, I can say without a doubt that the materials covered were instrumental in helping me settle into my role. The classes were a balanced mix of general topics, like how to write good unit tests, and TELUS-specific topics, like how to build a Site Builder component. As a developer on a front-end-focused team, having the program structured this way meant that it served as learning as well as an onboarding experience.

Looking into the future

Currently, I am halfway through the backend portion of the program, and only a few months away from my one-year mark at TELUS Digital. Looking back on the time that I have spent here, something that stands out to me more so than the lectures I have attended is how the program has shaped my confidence. To have gone from feeling overwhelmed with imposter syndrome on day one, to enthusiastically taking on new challenges today has been an incredible journey - one that wouldn’t have been possible without the support from my team members. 

I am so excited for the JDP program to continue running for years to come, and am looking forward to staying involved by providing mentorship as part of the instructor team in the future. It’s no secret that the tech industry is booming - especially with businesses moving to digital-first strategies amidst the COVID-19 pandemic - and I truly believe that TELUS Digital’s approach to giving back to the community by nurturing new developers will help grow the company in the long run.

Interested in learning more about our Junior Developer Program? You can learn more here.

Our team is always growing! You can find open roles across Design, Content, Development, and more on our Careers page.

Authored by:
Elissa's Headshot.
Elissa Matsushita
Junior Full Stack Developer
Elissa Matsushita is a Junior Developer at TELUS Digital. When she’s not busy coding, she enjoys exploring local trails and parks with her fur baby.