Types of Agencies to avoid working for
By Tan Ahmed on February 15, 2019
Many Junior developers are looking for their first opportunity in the industry to gain experience or for some, a career change. I have written this article to share some major red flags to be careful of when applying for a position at an agency
At the beginning of your career, money should not be the top priority. Use this time to gain as much knowledge as you can and build your experience to establish yourself in the industry. Experience is extremely valuable and is your best friend. Some agencies do exploit this
If you have a family, wife, mortgage or bills to pay, how would you be able to survive on a salary of £16-20k per year? Take into consideration your age, location, spending habits and lifestyle. For example, living in London costs a fortune – chances are, you’ll end up living in a run-down apartment and surviving paycheck to paycheck. I would highly recommend staying at home and commuting to London if possible. Unless, you’re too far then you’ll have to make do for a year! A commute of an hour should be perfectly do-able if you’re just sitting down on the train. However, if you are driving a car, for example an hour drive on the motorway can be mentally very tiring.
Lack of Senior Developers
When a Junior is starting out their career, they should ask millions of questions; this not only aids their learning experience, it additionally helps seniors reinforce what they know as it challenges their understanding. We’ve all been there, where we needed our hands held with someone exhibiting us how to utilize SSH or install node_modules.
However, this is also a dangerous time in your career because if you aren’t shown the best practices, it can be detrimental for your professional development. You would need regular code reviews, taught how to debug, workflow, testing, version control, deployment etc.
It is not advisable to work in a place where there are no seniors. This is a major red flag which indicates the agency have absolutely no processes in place and just do whatever it takes to get projects out the door. Avoid this at all costs!
This follows up from the point above; if you do end up taking a position where you are the only developer at this agency, chances are you are in for one hell of a ride. This will physically and emotionally leave a wound so deep which you’ll never recover from and live to tell the tale to your grandchildren. Try to avoid working for really small agencies, usually less than 5 people. Booking a holiday or even falling ill, in all likelihood, will be a nightmare!
Strive for greatness! If you do stick around and you’ve learnt loads, there should be opportunities to progress into a mid/senior level developer or possibly even progress into management. If not, one day you will and should leave to work for a larger organisation which can provide you with these opportunities. Your network will grow bigger the more places you work and you’ll also continue to learn best practices!
Lack of reviews
At the end of the day, you’re just a cog in the machine. However, if an agency doesn’t do regular reviews, the lack of feedback, development, and communication could mean that lot of the staff are unhappy and miserable, which affects the overall team morale. A happy agency is one which takes into consideration of its staff and looks after their well being, whether that’s an annual salary review or listening to their concerns and needs. I’ve worked in an agency which did not even give me a single review for an entire year, not even probation. Turns out all the other staff were miserable and looking for new opportunities.
My final thoughts
Sometimes you need the first opportunity to get into the industry, which is understandable. Everyone’s experiences are completely different and cannot be generalised. I can only advise you on what to keep an eye out for from my own experiences. All I can say is good luck. At the end of the day, a job is a job. You spend 8 hours there, so try to find a place where your colleagues are friendly and you enjoy going in.