Life can be challenging for new software developers. Despite the fact that you may have excellent technical skills, the fact of the matter is that you’ll be competing for jobs against developers who have far more experience than you do.
That is why if you want to become a successful software developer, you need to be proactive and do everything you can to improve yourself. To that end, here are some tips that will put you on the right track:
Become a T-shaped developer
A T-shaped developer is someone who has a deep and specific area of expertise, yet at the same time has a broad knowledge of other areas of expertise. More and more companies nowadays favor T-shaped developers because they are well-rounded, can chip in and help areas outside of their expertise, and understand other developers better when working in a team.
Becoming a T-shaped developer will take time, but the first step is to be willing to start learning things that are outside your area of expertise.
Write clean and reusable code
Get into the habit of writing code that is simple and easy to read. Many new software developers tend to write line after line of code into a function that gets bigger over time. In the end this makes it difficult to read, hard to reuse, and a headache to test.
Ideally you should focus on quality over speed and quantity – right from the start. Be sure to follow various software development and coding best practices to simplify your code and make it as easy to read as possible.
Learn to develop a broad understanding of projects
Instead of just focusing on your part of a project, you should always attempt to gain a broader understanding. For every project you should start by understanding its goals, objectives, and impact.
If you’re able to look at the big picture and understand how the pieces fit together, you’ll be a much better developer. It will let you develop an understanding of where your code fits in, the role that it plays, and its contribution to the project as a whole.
Always unit test code
Every developer must unit test their code. By unit testing your code as you write it, you can identify and fix bugs early on. The earlier that bugs are identified and fixed, the easier it will be and it will save both time and money in the long term.
By getting into the habit of unit testing your code, you’ll also start to appreciate the importance of writing code that is testable in the first place. That will help you embrace one of the key best practices for software development.
Improve your communication
One of the often underrated skills that all developers require is good communication. Simply put, you need to be able to communicate your ideas and thoughts to others, and be able to listen and understand what others are trying to communicate to you.
It should be noted that as a developer you may need to communicate with not only other developers, but also non-developers. Because of that it helps if you can explain technical topics to a non-technical audience.
Get help when you need it
As a software developer it is important to be persistent. But unnecessary persistence is not a good thing – and you should be open to getting help when you need it rather than letting it affect your productivity.
If you run into a problem that you find difficult – look for help. Some of the ways that you can do that are by searching on Google, posting on Stack Overflow, or asking other developers that you know.
Keep on learning new things
Don’t ever make the mistake of thinking that you have nothing left to learn. Modern software development is a continuous learning process and there will always be ways that you can deepen or broaden your expertise.
Good software developers are not only open to learning new things, but actively seek out new things to learn. Knowing how to acquire new skills and teach yourself new topics is invaluable, and will help you to grow.
By this point you should have a pretty good idea of what you need to do to become a successful software developer. If you follow them, you’ll be a more attractive prospect and more likely to land a job at a software development company. On top of that you’ll improve your expertise and grow as a developer.
Above and beyond all else, you need to be able to persevere. At times you may feel overwhelmed or frustrated, but you need to find ways to pull yourself together, focus on the problems at hand, and ignore both distractions and negative feelings while you find a solution.