Who Killed The Junior Developer?

melissa mcewen
5 min readFeb 11, 2018

There are plenty of junior developers, but not many jobs for them

A few months ago I attended an event for women in tech. A lot of the attendees were new developers, graduates from code schools or computer science programs. Almost everyone told me they were having trouble getting their first job.

I was lucky. My first “real” job out of college was “Junior Application developer” at Columbia University in 2010. These days it’s a rare day to find even a job posting for a junior developer position. People who advertise these positions say they are inundated with resumes. But on the senior level companies complain they can’t find good developers.

Gee, I wonder why?

I’m not really sure the exact economics of this, because I don’t run these companies. But I know what companies have told me: “we don’t hire junior developers because we can’t afford to have our senior developers mentor them.” I’ve seen the rates for senior developers because I am one and I had project managers that had me allocate time for budgeting purposes. I know the rate is anywhere from $190-$300 an hour. That’s what companies believe they are losing on junior devs.

I don’t believe that because no senior developer is working a full day on that $300 an hour rate. Also their hand wringing about the costs seems like crocodile tears knowing all the time they waste (at least in my opinion) on things like meetings.

But let’s say they do start sticking junior devs back into teams again. You have the additional issue which is now senior developers have no experience working with junior devs or training people at all. When I first started working with junior devs I had no idea how to do it. I felt lost and confused. My company was just like basically “give these people something to do so they can learn something.” But that’s really not a lot to go on.

I looked around for resources and found none. If you know of any please let me know in the comments. I eventually cobbled something together with pieces of various courses and different assignments.

But the amazing thing is how much I learned while doing it. I don’t think I really understood Javascript language features on a deep level until I had to explain them. Some of the tools I…