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How I Use ChatGPT Like It’s A Junior Developer

I’ve been cautious about relying too much on AI and ChatGPT. I’m trying to learn from the NFT and Crypto fads that have reared their ugly heads over the years.

Yes, AI is different, and it’s here to stay.

But I didn’t want to go all in with AI. I wanted to see how things started panning out. Before committing my time, money, energy and resources to the technology.

Also, SaaS marketers have hijacked the term AI. Most things aren’t true “AI” tools. They sit on top of someone else’s Intellectual Property.

Anyway.

On a recent project. I decided to see if I could use ChatGPT to help me code a new SaaS product.

The results shocked me if I’m honest.

ChatGPT: Killing Jobs Since 2023

I started paying the $20 a month for ChatGPT after testing out the free version. And wanted to see what the hype was about after they released GPT-4.

Having watched a few videos, one, where a guy was using it to code, it looked very cool.

How I Use ChatGPT Like It's A Junior Developer

Also, the content creation and marketing industry had jumped on it too.

From both a “powered by AI” angle. And to help them with their day-to-day jobs. Using it to come up with content ideas or plans. Also, helping them with their copywriting too.

I’d used it to help me come up with ideas before. For content and a few business ideas as well.

Most of my time spent with ChatGPT was to help me with my copywriting. To get version “one” of a landing page or blog post done. Then I used my mental energy to edit and refine the copy.

Can Code Write Code?

ChatGPT and Google Bard, now Gemini can write code.

I tested them out side by side one day. By asking them to write me a function in C#.

I can’t remember the problem I was trying to solve. It was only a small thing inside one of my SaaS projects.

What happened was ChatGPT got stuck in a loop giving the same two solutions over and over. Even though I kept telling it that the code didn’t work.

Google Bard was a lot worse. The code wouldn’t even compile. It gave me code that was broken to start with.

This is why I avoided using AI to code for quite a while.

It could help me in other areas, for sure.

But not to write code.

Or, so I thought.

Going From Zero To One

Like I said.

I use AI, ChatGPT for the most part. To get version “zero” done and dusted. If I’m trying to build a landing page, it’s amazing at helping you get started.

You can plug in your “target audience”, and give it information about your product or service. Within seconds it can give you the bulk of the copy.

People make a mistake at this point. They think that the work is done and they’ve completed the job.

They publish what ChatGPT has given them. But that’s version “zero”. Now, you need to get it to version “one”. To improve it refine it, and build on it.

That’s the power of AI.

You no longer need to spend a few hours. Use all your mental energy and focus to get to this first draft. It’s there in seconds.

It’s now about using that energy to improve on something.

And that’s the game changer.

Building A New Feature

So, if AI is terrible at writing code. What changed my mind?

Honestly, I decided to test it out again. I gave it another chance.

I thought I could use it as I do with other tasks. To get the initial version of the code written. Then to use my 20+ years of coding experience to build on top of it.

Building Something New

A few business owner friends of mine had a software idea.

They came to me and pitched the idea. Asking me if I could build it and if we wanted to go into business together. To see what would happen.

The majority of the stuff that needed coding, I’d done before. Or I used third-party solutions, like Auth0 to get us up and running.

What I wanted to do was focus on the code that made up the new product.

What Can We Do That’s Different?

We got to a point with the software, where we were trying to get people to use the service. Then give us valuable feedback.

But we were also thinking, what can we do that’s different?

We wanted to focus on helping eCommerce store owners. Targeting Shopify customers.

My business partners had a lot of experience working with eCom stores. And knew how busy running an online store was for people.

We came up with an idea that would save store owners time or money by producing Social Proof images. And make it easy to share or download them from inside our software.

Like what you can do in Canva.

We had the info in a database that you would export data from, and then import into Canva. So we decided to try and bridge that gap for people.

ChatGPT: It’s Like A Junior Dev, But 1000X Faster

So, instead of researching how to do this.

I turned to ChatGPT, now that I was paying for it. To see if it could get me up and running. Not to code it so that it’s production-ready. But to go from nothing to something.

I spent a bit of time crafting the prompt. Making sure I had all the information that it would need.

Also, telling it I was coding in C# what the idea was behind the feature and product.

I then hit send.

Spike Tasks Completed In Seconds

A lot of the time now, with modern software development. It isn’t about coding things from scratch.

It’s more about seeing if there is something out there already. That could be a package or framework. Even architecture or cloud services.

Then use your skills to “plug and play” things together.

It can be taxing though.

If a package has awful documentation you can waste hours figuring out how to get up and running with it. Never mind trying to get it integrated into a project.

This is how ChatGPT “rocked my world”

It gave me what C# NuGet package to use. How to set it up in my project. As well as giving me the contents of a code file that I could drop into my solution and get started with.

A spike task, a research job, done in seconds, instead of hours

Like Having A Newbie Coder Sat Next To Me

It felt a little weird

I told my business partners I finished the feature. And that it had only taken me an afternoon.

On a call with them, I said I’d used ChatGPT and my exact words were:

“It’s like having a junior developer sitting next to me with a laptop. That does all the research and leg work for me. Then I used my skills to build it out. Only 1000 times faster.”

And that’s the amazing, wild and very weird thing about AI.

I had working code inside my IDE and software in minutes, not hours.

It had done all the research and gave me the best option for the job.

I’d not wasted any time or energy to get to this point. My effort was to refine the code to make it work with the rest of the SaaS. So that we had a complete, working, new feature.

I hate pair programming.

But that’s what it was like.

It’s like when you’re working in a software development team. And you get a new junior developer, with a year or two’s worth of experience.

Then, you work with them on a feature, guiding them. Letting them do a lot of the coding and grunt work. You then help them release something they’ve coded up, into production.

But it’s 1000 times faster. At least.

And without needing the soft skills and patience.

As an “Indie Hacker”, a SaaS business owner and technical founder. That’s amazing.

But also I feel sorry for people starting on their coding journey. Well if that’s in the corporate world!

So, Is ChatGPT & AI Going To Take Our Jobs?

Who knows.

Here are my thoughts on it.

It’s Not Who Think

I’ve seen a bit of content recently about what “demographic” AI is going to impact in a bad way.

A lot of content talks about automating things like deliveries. Maybe utilities and a lot of the traditional “Blue Collar” work.

But it’s not going to impact these industries as much as you think.

It’s the office workers that will get battered. The knowledge-based industries. People who are University educated. That provides the time and skills as a service to other businesses.

That’s what surprised me the most.

And, according to one study I saw, it’s going to over 25% of those types of roles that go.

Governments Will Step In.

AI isn’t going anywhere. It’s here to stay.

However certain policies are in place relating to AI. And that’s not the end of it.

There could be a social crisis if we let AI run wild. So many people could lose their jobs. Already have.

I don’t want to go into any “scaremongering”, but there could be big changes coming.

Both from what AI can and will do in the short and long term future. As well as what sanctions or restrictions governments will put in place. To make sure it doesn’t disrupt industries to a point where things get out of hand.

Entry And Junior Roles Are Getting Wiped Out

I’ve mentioned a few “jobs” that I “hire” ChatGPT for to help me get through my to-do list.

Content creation, copywriting and now coding.

I already use automation to help me with my business. Things like accounting, and repurposing content. Email follow-ups and digital product delivery.

All AI is going to do is make it faster, better and more robust.

That’s why it’s all the office jobs, the knowledge workers that are getting their “noses broken”.

It isn’t going to be at all levels though.

But entry-level, junior roles. And people starting out their careers are the ones who will be impacted the most.

Senior roles will be safe, well safer in my eyes. Looking at my own 9-5 senior/lead developer role now. I won’t get replaced. I’ve too much experience and knowledge. Something that AI can’t replace. Yet!

So, what can you do about it?

Future Proof Yourself

In this section, I’m going to come at it from a Junior Developer’s point of view.

What I’d tell someone starting now. To help them to stand out.

Blatant self-promotion: I’ve written a blog about how to become a top 1% developer. Which will future-proof you as well as make you stand out if you already work in tech.

Step 1. Teach yourself prompt engineering.

As someone starting out trying to build a career as a software developer. Don’t ignore AI, embrace it.

Get good at using ChatGPT and other AI tools.

I’ve subscribed to a tool called GitHub Copilot. Which is AI running inside the software you code with.

So make using things like Copilot second nature.

Businesses that build software. Even if they have gone all in on AI. Will still need humans to drive it.

If you can show that you can use AI, better than all the other candidates. Better than their current senior developers.

Then, you may stand a chance.

Step 2: Build A Portfolio Of Work

This doesn’t have to be in a professional setting.

If you can show people that you can code. That you can use AI to get shit done, fast. And that you can solve problems. Which is all businesses care about.

Then this will also set you apart.

Show them you can build SaaS products. Mobile apps. Backend processors.

They don’t have to be live, working products that they can use.

Having all the code on GitHub will be enough. They will be able to see what you’ve been doing. What you’ve produced.

That’s all that you need.

Coding Roles Aren’t Going Away

Businesses are always going to need humans to code.

But that doesn’t mean they will be writing the code.

It will be more like a developer is a factory manager. Standing at the front of a production line. Making sure high-quality software comes out at the end.

Because of this. So many “low-level” coding jobs will go.

The number of jobs across the entire software space will drop. And drop dramatically.

That’s the scary part.

So you need to make sure you can be good enough to land, even keep, one of those jobs.

Conclusion: Using ChatGPT To Code

So, ChatGPT, Github Copilot and other AI tools are getting better at writing code.

But they aren’t perfect.

And we humans, we coders will still be needed to talk to AI to get it to write code for us.

Think of it as another tool to help you go from zero to one. You are still needed to review, rewrite and improve the code that it produces.

It can’t work out what the end goal is. But you can.

So AI isn’t going to take all our jobs. But it is going to decimate the entry-level roles.

Because as someone who has years of experience writing software. AI is like having a junior developer working alongside me, sitting next to me. That can do all the research and write the “proof of concept” code for me.

Only 1000 times faster.

I then use my skills, knowledge and experience to get stuff done in hours, not days or weeks

And that powerful, that’s scary!

Oh, one more thing. If you do work as a developer or in tech. And are finding you’ve got far too much going on to manage. I’ve put together a productivity course for other developers, called Productivity Bootcamp. Click the link and start making more time for coding, and less time for the “agile” bullshit that’s expected of us.

Wait, want more tips & tricks? Yes, please!

Who Is Phil Hughes

I am a coder, content creator & software consultant for start-ups and FTSE 100 companies. I am obsessed with productivity, self-improvement, and building a lifestyle business.
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