What can you expect your job to be like as a new programmer?
If at all possible try to get a position as an intern while you’re still in college. You will need to know how to program because you will be expected to contribute code as an intern. This will give you a chance to see for yourself what a real job will be like in that company and in that team. If the company is large enough, then try go go back as an intern a couple times on different teams. Make sure you keep in touch with all the teams you work with because these will be your best chance of finding a position that you and the company both know will be a good fit.
If you’re not sure what to do or how to go about something, just ask. Anybody. Just the fact that you get hired as an intern or a recent graduate means that the company expects to spend extra time with you to make sure you know what to do. Ask thoughtful questions and show initiative by trying to figure things out first. Don’t spend too long if you find yourself stuck. When you’re first starting out, if you can’t solve a problem after a few hours, ask for direction. This is the best time in your career to learn from your mistakes because everybody will be expecting you to make mistakes and ready to lend a hand.
Initially, you’ll likely be working mostly on bugs. Don’t think of these bugs as boring work that only the new people get. These are great things for you to work on because they will have clear steps for you to follow to reproduce the problem and equally clear guidelines about what should have happened. These bugs are your initial chance to apply what you’ve learned. You’ll be expected to ask questions and clarify the scenarios. Try to think of other ways the bug might appear and fix them all. Just follow whatever system the team uses to track bugs and report progress. Be transparent about what you’re doing well and what you’re struggling with.
And have fun.