It’s no secret that software developers are among the most demanded specialists right now, especially as the Covid-19 pandemic heralds a new era of digital-only products and services. Ever since the harsh initial social restrictions were enforced, businesses have started to look for ways to embrace the ongoing digital transformation without going through too much turbulence. That’s why the demand for good software developers has increased by 73% since February last year, and the expectations are that the numbers will continue to rise.
From my experience working in a bespoke software development company, I know that the secret element to becoming a great developer is passion. However, besides the ability to develop software applications, you need to develop the right attitude to grow as a professional. Passion might be the driving force behind getting things done, but passion alone won’t suffice without other personal qualities. So, let’s start with some of the most important tips for becoming
1. Start With the Basics and Gradually Improve
If you are determined to become a good software developer, then you’ll have to emerge yourself deeper in technical tutorials. Don’t try to reinvent the lightbulb – if you need something in particular, e.g. how to split a string in Java, look it up and learn from more experienced software developers. Another practical tip would be to study your IDE (e.g. Eclipse for Java) and code editor (e.g. Visual Studio Code) in depth. This way, you’ll know shortcuts, and this will help your daily productivity and will save you time by eliminating unnecessary mouse clicks.
Getting really good at what you do requires a lot of discipline, endless curiosity and commitment but these are usually internal qualities of anyone who pursues a technical career. Get a clear idea of what interests you and research relevant online courses to get you started. Thankfully, our digital era provides tremendous amounts of learning opportunities, some even free of charge. So, if you want to learn Java, just look up Java beginner tutorials on YouTube, Codecademy or Udemy, and you’ll be good to go.
2. Read Software-Related Books
While you explore and dive deeper into the many available resources online, don’t forget that the good old books are also great helpers in need. For example, the book “Effective Java” is a good starting point to pave the way for a career as a Java software developer. Another gem you should definitely check out is “Clean Code” by Uncle Bob Martin. Although it was written in 2008, it touches on some of the software development fundamental principles as well as common mistakes in object-oriented programming languages.
In case you have a different professional background and need some introduction to the broad topic of software development, you can try the 2009 MIT Press classic Introduction to Algorithms (CLRS), which targets both entry-level developers as well as more senior specialists. Some even refer to it as the programmer’s bible as it covers multithreaded, randomized algorithms, linear and dynamic programming, probabilistic analysis and much more. There are also books devoted to specific topics such as Refactoring (Martin Fowler), Unit Testing (Osherove) or Coding Interviews (McDowell).
3. Choose a Specialisation
Don’t get me wrong, the more technologies you master, the better, but a common practice among junior developers is that they start exploring the field too broadly, too soon. Not only can this be really time-consuming but it can also be hindering your career growth as a software developer as it will shift your focus on non-core things.
It might sound like a no-brainer, but take the necessary time and devote it to mastering all technology-related tools. For instance, if you want to become a Java developer, besides learning Java, you should also get familiar with tools such as NetBeans or Eclipse (IDEs), JUnit (testing), Jenkins (automation), Maven (POM project management) and Spring Boot (stand-alone apps). Alternatively, if you want to become an iOS developer, d concentrate primarily on programming languages and tools that you use to build iOS applications such as Swift, Xcode and Cocoa Touch.
4. As you Learn, Put Your Ego Aside
You have to admit it – it feels like an instant ego boost when you produce a high-quality code from the first time, and it works from the first time. Especially if you are a Junior software developer, it is easier to fall into the ego trap and forget that you still have knowledge and experience gaps. One way to avoid this is to constantly look for ways to get better, seek guidance from more experienced teammates and make time for self-reflection, as sometimes you are the only person standing in your way.
In this case, ego really is the enemy, as the famous book title suggests. One of the main ideas is that our ego is the tiny voice trying to persuade us that we are better than we are. Thus, it creates a too positive self-image and prevents us from connecting to the world around us in a real way. In Dreamix, one of our team leads suggests that ego sabotages our critical thinking. Software developers can get so self-absorbed that it limits their learning opportunities. No matter how technically talented you are, you can get better only by acquiring new skills.
5. Become a Team Player
Knowledge sharing is one of our greatest values at Dreamix. That’s why we have organised numerous initiatives and clubs to promote that sharing is caring. To become a good software developer, you need to adopt that mentality that you have better growth opportunities when you are a team player. What happens when you’ve put your ego aside, prepared for mistakes and embraced critical thinking – you get better!
For this reason, having someone who provides you with the necessary feedback is essential. Try to join software development teams with an open mindset of sharing resources and exchanging experiences. Even the senior developers were juniors at some point, and they didn’t get where they are now through positive feedback. Don’t fear making mistakes and strive for honest feedback (be it negative) and have someone to teach what you know – you can either become a teacher’s assistant at your university or provide learning resources for more junior colleagues.
6. Become a Lifelong Learner
I’ll finish this blog post with my favourite tip for becoming a successful software developer, no matter the technology you choose to specialise in – don’t get discouraged if you don’t know something. This is probably the single piece of advice that you need to transform into a habit as the only certain aspect in our ever-changing post-Covid world. Becoming a lifelong learner starts with simply admitting the fact that you can never know everything about a single subject.
However, don’t let this thing get in the way of your professional development plan. There are many ways you can keep up with the latest technologies, app releases, trending topics, project management approaches, etc. For instance, you can have it as a daily task to read tech-related news, subscribe to insightful newsletters, attend conferences, join professional forums and follow interesting discussions. Additionally, you can also look for a mentor to accompany you on your personal career journey.
Author Biography Aleksandrina Vasileva
Aleksandrina is a Content Creator at Dreamix, a custom software development company, and is keen оn innovative technological solutions with a positive impact on our world. Her teaching background, mixed with interests in psychology, drives her to share knowledge. She is an avid reader and an enthusiastic blogger, always looking for the next inspiration.