If you could give one piece of advice to a newbie developer, what would you say? Our developer community offers…
We all have to start someplace in our careers and as a developer, you have a LOT of options and decisions to make. From your first job and industry, programming language to learn, training, soft skills and more. The choices are endless and each right decision (and sometimes wrong decision) helps bring you to where you are today in your career. Looking back, if you could give an important piece of advice to a junior developer, what would you tell them?
Always be prepared to learn something new, especially for the purposes of being able to move to a new “hot and shiny” growth area. In our field, when you become experienced with a technology to the point that it’s easy and you aren’t learning anything new and it’s starting to become boring to you, its probably time to identify a new and growing technology area and to start to learn that. By being willing to move to new growth areas and forcing yourself to learn something new, you will grow your talent stack and guarantee that your skills will always be in demand.
The most important piece of advice I can give for a junior developer is to ask questions. There’s a perception that asking questions gives an appearance of not knowing enough to do your job – it’s just not true. Ask all of the questions. Senior developers appreciate questions (the good ones, anyway!).
The secret is not to know everything; it is knowing how to get the answers. Even the most seasoned developers have to constantly learn new things. Sure, it may relate to other things they know, but they still have to continuously educate themselves. The best developers go bravely into new territory and never stop learning. They develop their own patterns of finding information, through asking the developer community, though reading and research, and through hands-on experimentation. Find what works for you and never let a lack of knowledge on a new technique or language become a barrier to trying it out.
Learn the fundamentals. New technologies come out every year and you won’t have time to learn each and every one. Instead, focus on learning the fundamentals. Get really good at a single programming language, get used to writing documentation, adding unit tests, and following the DRY principle. Get to know your way around a shell, how to use bash commands like “grep”, “exec”, and “find”. Lastly, get to know the latest open source projects. Open source has won and helped propel the adoption of cloud computing. By working on an open source project you’ll grow your network and become exposed to software you might not use in your day job.
My advice to a new developer is not to get hung up on a single technology nor take sides in a programming language holy war. Always remain open-minded to new approaches to a development challenge. Change is constant in the software industry. The hot new framework that everyone says you must learn now or the development methodology that will solve all problems and render everything else obsolete is soon to be the butt of jokes in a few years or even months! Find what works for the immediate customer need or to scratch your own project itch to deliver working code today while keeping your eye on the future. A great way to do this is to balance your learning between hands-on tutorials and high-level keynotes from technical presenters at a variety of meetups and conferences.
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