Does the pace of technology development stress you? Don’t worry - it’s normal. However, if you wish to be a top-notch programmer, it’s still really important to keep on track with improving your personal and technical skills.
Let’s make it clear: it’s not only code writing skills that make you a good developer. To really boost your career, you also need to learn how to learn and improve your soft skills. Here are some tips on how you can grow much faster and stay attractive in the IT labor market. Let’s go!
Follow social media
If you wanna dwell on the latest technologies and always stay updated with the recent trends, there’s a quite simple way to achieve it. Find the brightest industry minds online, start following their content or tweets and just learn as much as you can about how they develop their skills and business models.
In addition, you will find industry knowledge on blogs and forums. You probably know websites such as Stack Overflow or so, but there’s simply never enough reminding how useful are available free-of-charge resources.
What’s important, don’t stay passive - if only you feel like joining the conversation, do it! This is exactly how you can dig into the topic even deeper and contribute to building your expertise and visibility.
Read a lot
Yes, that’s right! Even though a software development job seems to be mostly about spending time in front of the screen, books are still a relevant source of knowledge and inspiration.
What’s even more surprising, not only reading technical books can positively influence developers:
According to research, reading sci-fi minimizes the need for closure, improves creativity and stimulates the development of new ideas and solutions.
In addition, the other research about reading novels showed that reading improves communication and empathy which seem to be useful skills in a developer’s day-to-day work.
People who read have a slower rate of memory decline.
Moreover, reading lowers blood pressure and heart rate, and relieves even 68% of stress after reading for only 6 minutes. Well, it’s useful, isn’t it?
If you don’t know something, there’s a simple way to change it: ask.
If you have to deal with something you didn’t fully understand, don’t hesitate and go to ask those who are more experienced than you. Stay proactive and learn from everyone who is within your reach, and hang around whoever can lead you to a better understanding of code, environment, technology, or business requirements. Don’t be ashamed, as there’s no other way to learn - the sooner you will admit your lacks, the sooner you will improve.
And, by the way - remember that Google is your best friend, regardless of your seniority. That’s probably the only existing source where you can find answers to all your questions. Use it wisely.
Mind your health
Although it sounds trivial, your health plays a major role in your development process. Eventually, your body is the only one you will ever have. Destroying your well-being, spine or mental health right at the beginning of your software development path doesn’t sound appealing. So, how to stay in a good shape?
Exercise regularly. Regular physical movement will help you maintain the good condition of your brain cells and mental health, reduce stress and leave you in a much better mood. Moreover, according to Whole Brain Health research, physical exercise stimulates neurogenesis in the hippocampus which improves learning and memory - and those are two crucial skills that you use in your daily tasks, indeed.
Sleep well. Getting enough (minimum 7-8 hours) sleep helps you to maintain your mental health and become more productive. With a proper rest, your brain is enabled to remember things easier and longer and help you stay focused, thus you will make fewer bugs and complete your tasks faster. To have a really good sleep, try to avoid blue light before going to bed for at least one hour and drinking caffeine in late hours.
Create quiet work environment
Working in chaos rarely pays off. Although the open office was created to improve collaboration and creativity, and many companies still opt for this solution, the research doesn’t prove that it works. In fact, excess noise creates a lot of distractions and it makes it difficult to fully focus on performed tasks. The next problem is visual noise which is even more annoying than the regular one.
So, having this knowledge, you can significantly improve your productivity by reducing the number of distractors. Put some time and effort into creating a comfy workplace. As in 2022 the majority of tasks can be performed remotely, why won’t you use the opportunity and switch to remote or hybrid model? Do as much as possible to improve your comfort - without a proper focus, you will never fully explore your potential.
Learn good code practices and agile methods
Writing a code is not that complicated - but writing a good one might be truly challenging. Although some rules of the writing process seem to be tough or annoying, the sooner you will start to implement best practices, the better. Keeping your code well-structured, clear and understandable will save you from a lot of struggles and will make your day-to-day job much easier.
Also, using agile methods can strongly contribute to your effectiveness and ability to teamwork. In fact, utilizing them will make you more collaborative and appreciated by your coworkers and clients. Using agile methods means for them:
transparency in projects
higher product quality
shorter development time
higher customer satisfaction
reducing risks and technical debt
For you it’s also the opportunity to collect feedback and learn from it. Ability and readiness to work with agile methods will increase your market value and make you a more attractive candidate.
Have you ever heard about the protégé effect? If not, it’s time to change it!
The protégé effect is nothing but a method of learning by teaching others, and it’s proven to be extremely effective. Even if you still don’t consider yourself senior, you surely have a lot to share with programming adepts. How does it actually work?
Teaching others helps to structure your knowledge and improves metacognitive processing. This makes you more aware of your learning process and more confident.
Teaching improves your motivation to learn. It is proven that once you feel responsible for those you’re gonna teach, you’re ready for a greater effort.
This method leads to the development and use of learning strategies and more effective searching for information.
It evokes feelings of competence and increases your value in the workplace. In fact, once you’re able to train others, you’re just one step away from taking leadership and responsibility.
So, if only you have a chance to train someone, use this opportunity and see for yourself how fast you can grow.
Learn the industry
Although coding is probably a majority of your day-to-day work, you still need to boost your abilities with some industry knowledge. It’s as simple as that: the better understanding of business reality and requirements you will have, the better and more relevant code you will be able to write.
So, use part of your time to dig into the topic of the target industry as well as general business topics. It will help you to deliver not only a good quality code but a real business value. In the end, it’s the ability to satisfy your customer and contribute to their business growth that makes you a good programmer.
Find a mentor
Well, every seniority level requires a knowledge boost. Finding a mentor might be the next valuable step on your way to growth that can significantly accelerate your development.
Who is a mentor? It’s usually a senior developer who becomes your coach, career and technology advisor. Thanks to their support your learning process will become much more structured and planned, and you will gain competencies in your target areas much faster. Such hands-on guidance you will make you successfully boost your confidence and leadership skills, and equip you with everything you may need on your further career path.
Join the coding class
If you’re still a newbie in the programming world, trying to get hard programming skills on your own might not be the best idea. Joining a structured class or a Bootcamp might significantly accelerate your learning process, and let you catch whatever is important and dig into details much faster. The help of experienced trainers and a strict schedule may be particularly helpful for those who haven’t mastered self-discipline yet, but also for everyone who wishes to develop their skills as fast as possible.
Ask for code reviews
Hearing praise is always great. However, if your aim is to become a really good developer, don’t be afraid to hear some criticism. Although everything in your code may seem clear for you, it may not be equally clear for others. How to know whether your code is good or not? The advice is simple again: ask!
Collecting opinions about your work might save you from writing unclear code and collecting a technical debt. Moreover, thanks to asking for reviews you will not only immediately improve the quality of your code, but also learn a lot from the feedback. Remember: the more honest the review is, the better for you.
Learn the effective communication
No matter if you work as a freelancer or you’re a part of a software house, you will always need to communicate with someone - a client or a coworker. And as a developer, you can waste plenty of time on inefficient communication, indeed. There’s nothing more upsetting than coding mistakes that could have been easily eliminated if only the mutual understanding between developers and business requirements were better.
Once we are already naming things that can help you to become a better developer, we simply couldn’t forget communication skills. The ability to understand others and express your concerns is definitely one of the things that your clients and coworkers will appreciate right away.
And how to improve in this field? Here we come with a few tips and best practices:
Before you even write a single line of code, make sure you have all the necessary information and that you understand both technical and business requirements.
Opt for establishing a single point of contact between the company and the client, and stick to this person in communication.
Present the result of your job regularly with the rest of the team and inform them immediately about bottlenecks.
Listen carefully and stay focused. Proactively rephrase whatever the other person says to make sure you understood it right.
Ask questions. Whenever you’re unsure about something, clarify it right away.
Be polite. Never attack the person, but name the problem and instead of blaming others, aim to find solutions.
Install communicators such as Hangout, Skype, or Slack, and get used to using them when working with your team or clients.
Have side projects
Last but not least, developing your skills in a specific field is always okay. However, if you wish to grow faster, it’s always a good idea to try out other areas, or simply get more experience. To achieve this, you need side projects.
No matter what’s your seniority, it’s always a good deal to work with more clients, learn from their requirements and make some independent decisions. Having even small projects might help you explore your interests, learn new tools and simply become a more skilled developer.
Having side projects will provide you with plenty of benefits. It will help you to:
Accelerate your growth as a developer.
Gain additional skills in the same or different fields.
Become more independent and get ready to switch to a freelancing model.