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A Day in the Life of a Python Developer

Want to become a Python developer? We explain what your daily life will look like and what skills you will need to be successful.

Do you know what a typical day looks like for a Python developer? Many think that programmers are loners, anti-social, or at least introverts, and that they spend all day only coding in front of multiple screens. There are even those who think programmers are freaks who have no hobbies or interests besides computers. This is a painful and unpleasant stereotype that is significantly different from the reality. Let's take a look at a typical day in the real life of a developer, specifically a Python developer.

My Adventure With Python

I don't have a Python job myself. However, Python was the first programming language I learned, and I still have a lot of warm feelings for it. I love it because it's a beginner-friendly, widely used programming language that can be useful not only for professional programmers but also scientists and even artists. When I received an offer to join a small software company last year and discovered the backend was mostly in Python, I was over the moon.

I work as a frontend developer, and obviously, I work closely with backend developers on a daily basis. We meet during daily scrums and sprint planning. But our tasks often interlock – when working on web applications, you need both the back end and the front end for most of the elements to work.

Often, we need to display information passed from the back end, for which backend developers must prepare proper endpoints. But I think I'm getting ahead of myself, because you may not know what exactly a Python developer is.

What Is a Python Developer?

The definition of a “developer” is someone who creates software, which means he or she writes the source code of a program or application. But that's just a starting point. A real-life Python developer's job includes debugging their own code as well as reviewing their colleagues' work. It also includes setting up the tests and the production environment for software development, connecting the application to the database, and integrating the application with third-party software or services like payment systems.

From my own observations, the smaller the development team, the more varied the tasks are. I've never worked for a big corporation, but I can imagine that, in a team of a few dozen people, every developer can focus on his or her own specialization. In contrast, in a team of 3-4 people, you need to be able to do a number of different tasks. Let's take a look at what Python developers need to know to be successful in their job.

	A Day in the Life of a Python Developer

What Do You Need to Know as a Python Developer?

Python is one of the most versatile and widely used programming languages. It may not be the most widely used, but the active community around it is still growing.

It's one of the most beloved programming languages, too! Stack Overflow ranked Python as the third most loved language in their developer survey for 2018. Python is a very friendly programming language for beginners, and a lot of people coming to the IT industry from different backgrounds choose it as their first language.

What level of Python knowledge is enough to land a Python job? That depends on the company or even the team you'll be working with. Fortunately, a lot of tech companies hire junior Python developers as well as mid-level and senior programmers. A diverse team is the best team you can have.

More Than Just Python

Knowledge of Python is a must for a Python developer, obviously. But there are many skills a Python developer needs to master to be successful. Some of them are directly related to Python, and others are a bit different.

There are numerous Python libraries every developer needs. Some are very specific, like libraries for game development and scientific libraries. Some are very basic and have wide usage in many applications, like database libraries, HTML parsing libraries, and mathematical libraries. You may also need some Python framework like Django, the most popular framework for creating web applications with Python. Sometimes you'll work with a Python- or Django-based CMS like Wagtail.

Other valuable skills include version control systems (like the very popular Git), SQL, and databases. Many Python developers are also well acquainted with frontend technologies like HTML, CSS, and JavaScript.

As Python is used increasingly for data analysis, AI, and machine learning, some knowledge of these topics can be a huge plus. This depends on the domain you work in, of course.

It’s Not Just the Technical Skills That Matter

Many beginners who enter the IT industry think the most important skills are the technical ones. But that's only half of the truth. Most IT jobs involve working in a team, so it wouldn't be wise to underestimate the soft skills. They include communicating effectively, giving and taking feedback, and searching for information efficiently. You can read more about it in one of my previous articles on surviving the first days in an IT-related job.

Of course, technical skills are very important. When you start a job in IT, you can expect a constant need for learning new technologies, tools, languages, and skills. This is not limited to Python developer jobs. That's the beauty of this industry – you can never be bored!

How to Become a Python Developer

Wonder how to start your career as a Python developer? You know what to learn; I'll try to help you find a way to learn it.

Your first thought may be to study computer science or something similar. It can be intimidating and discouraging. But about half of the Python developers in my company graduated with majors other than computer studies. Some are even from the humanities – I know at least a few philosophy graduates who work as Python developers now!

	A Day in the Life of a Python Developer

If you worry programming is not for you because you lack a technical diploma – you may be proven wrong! Many people who want to change their career paths (myself included) think it's too late for them to start. But I don’t think it ever is. Just give yourself permission to try something new and see what can happen.

Recently, two junior Python developers joined our company – they were self-taught. With a little experience, a lot of enthusiasm, and a proven ability to learn fast, you can land your first Python job. It's very reassuring.

I always recommend starting with online courses to learn new things. They are easily accessible wherever you are. You can learn at your own pace but still ask questions in support or community groups. This is how I started my adventure with coding many years ago.

Today, learning is even more beginner-friendly. For example, at LearnPython.com, you can find a full Python learning track that guides you from the very basic “Hello world” exercises to much more complex topics like data structures and built-in algorithms. I loved the idea that I didn’t need to research what topics I should learn in which order. I could just focus on learning.

Looking for a Job as a Python Developer

If you already know Python and are ready to look for your first Python developer job, you may be overwhelmed by the number of websites with open job positions. In this article, you can find some recommended websites that post open Python positions like Stack Overflow and LinkedIn, just to name a few.

Looking for a job is always stressful. This is especially so when you're changing your career path and don't know exactly what to expect at the job interview. Luckily, we have some example questions you might come across during an interview for a junior Python developer job. Check them out to verify what you need to review or learn before the interview. I always recommend doing some projects on your own, even if they are not for pay, to create a GitHub portfolio. A project portfolio can catch your prospective employers' attention much faster than a CV.

Before applying for a Python job, you'd probably want to know more about what it is really like to work as a Python developer, right? Here’s a glimpse. What does a typical day of a Python developer look like in the teams I work with?

The day-to-day of a Python Developer

There's a lot of coding, of course. But there are many other tasks. As I observe our Python developers, I see that, in addition to writing new applications and features, they review the code of other developers. In most companies, the code is cross-checked among the developers before it is released to ensure quality. Debugging the code is also very common – you need to be sure your code is working properly.

Sometimes, pair programming is the best way to find flaws in your code – another pair of eyes can be priceless. Pair programming is valuable also when developing new features, especially for less experienced developers, as you can discuss the best way to accomplish your task. I've seen our lead Python developer teach junior developers or work in a pair with them many times. Contrary to what you might think, it can save time – it allows junior developers to learn by doing and not get stuck, because they can always call for help or advice.

The one thing I can say for sure about working as a Python developer is that it's a very flexible job. Most of our Python developers work full-time, but some of them choose to work only part-time. They can still make a living easily, as Python jobs usually pay well. It's also typical that different developers start their workday at different hours – we have both early birds and night owls (that's me). After some time, I learned who I can contact in the morning and who'll come in just before noon. And we try not to have meetings early!

Speaking of meetings, they're an important part of the day-to-day, especially in companies that have adopted Scrum. Scrum is an agile framework for work management and very popular in software development. Daily Scrums keep the entire team updated on what everyone is doing. It's also a good chance to let others know you're stuck with a certain task.

Before the sprint starts, the entire team meets to plan the work. When the sprint ends, we review the progress of our work. As you can see, there can be a lot of meetings in a developer's routine, so communication skills are really important.

Life in an IT Team During the Pandemic

I started to work for my company during the first lockdown in 2020. The entire team was working remotely at that time. Only a few people came to the office from time to time. I met my colleagues in person for the first time after over a month since I started. During the first several weeks, we saw each other only on Meet or Zoom.

The pandemic has changed the way people work in many industries. In IT, it has mostly meant working remotely, which is easier for programming than for many other jobs. Some of our developers worked from their countryside homes, from family homes outside main cities, or simply from their apartments. It might seem it would be difficult to build good relationships with others communicating only online, but I think it went quite smoothly! I even had a chance to meet my co-workers' children and see their pets interrupting the meetings.

	A Day in the Life of a Python Developer

Many teams are starting to get back to the office right now, so the typical day of an IT team could soon be like the one I described in my article about the daily routine in my last team. Let's hope for that!

All Work and No Play…?

All coding jobs, not just Python jobs, can be very absorbing. Luckily, the vast majority of the developers I've worked with have had a good work-life balance and have always found time for their other passions, like sports, travel, family, and pets.

I work remotely, but I try to pop into our office from time to time to meet with the team, get some tasty food together, and go out for a beer after work (now, when it's finally possible!). A good atmosphere in the team is priceless. It's always a good sign when the company and the team members care about that.

We had our Christmas get-together online because of the restrictions, but everyone had his or her gift sent by mail. We managed to meet together for some donuts for Fat Thursday (our version of Mardi Gras!). I’ve even heard something about a weekend kayak trip next month!

Considering a job as a Python Developer?

Have you ever considered a job as a Python developer? I hope this article has convinced you it can be both fun and challenging. I will be a Python fan forever – it has been the most fun and friendly language to learn, maybe because it was my first programming language and even the smallest progress was a great success for me.

Looking at the IT industry and seeing so many opportunities that knowledge of Python opens today, I'm starting to wonder if the front end is really my last stop….

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