When I took my first job as a manager, I received a basket of "necessities" from my coworkers. I can't remember everything that was in the basket - things like Diet Pepsi and Visene and a couple other tongue-in-cheek items poking fun at the challenges of being a manager. The most memorable thing, though, was a simple manilla folder, marked with the label "Keepers." I wasn't sure what it meant and which of my coworkers would put it in there or why.
It was my mentor and first supervisor who told me that it was she who put the keeper folder in the basket and then she proceeded to tell me why. She said as a manager I would be under the microscope and there would be days when all I heard from my employees and coworkers is what I was doing wrong. And because of that harsh reality, it was even more important to maintain a keeper folder in order to keep my confidence up. So as all you novice coders out there try to break into the industry, I encourage you to start a keeper folder as well.
The purpose of the keeper folder is to fill it with notes and emails of compliments from people on things you've done well and received praise for. Think of it as a rainy day folder that you pull out and read on those days when things aren't going well for you and when it seems like you can't do anything right. It's a reminder that there are things you've done so well that someone decided it was worth mentioning it to you.
I honestly can't tell you what happened to that original folder that was given to me so long ago, but every time I start a new job, I almost immediately create a virtual folder and save emails containing compliments and praise from coworkers, clients, and my bosses. Did you receive a good grade on a paper you wrote or get an email from someone thanking you for doing something special? Or did you receive a note from someone with a compliment that came out of left field? Well, start to put them together and organize them - you may find the additional pick-me-ups are a saving grace as you try to land that first job.