You’ve graduated with your degree or finished coding boot camp and landed your first gig as a developer – congratulations!
For many new developers, the transition from learning about software coding and on-the-job application is often rife with challenges, particularly when navigating the nuances of the business world’s three C’s: co-workers, clients, and company cultures. Go into the process prepared for success with these nine tips for new developers.
#1 Stay Agile With Agile Methodology
One of the biggest tips for coders and developers: embrace agile methodology. The agile approach to software development promotes a natural, iterative progression to business process improvement and problem resolution, encouraging stakeholder engagement and ultimate employee adoption.
Note: The key to a successful agile engagement? Staying “agile” with your team’s implementation of the methodology. While there are standards, most agile teams, for one reason or another, tend to have varied interpretations of the methodology. Don’t be surprised if your first few agile projects veer from best practice. Be flexible, take the opportunity to learn from mistakes, and stay open to strategic adjustments in direction, as needed to deliver the best possible final product.
#2 It’s Not Just About the Code
More specifically, don’t just be a good programmer. Software development is more than just lines of code, it’s about problem solving. Don’t just leap into writing code; put in the time to consider the problem you are trying to solve, the larger context of the project, and potential issues in your approach. In the long run, a well-designed solution will save time and improve the software product’s quality.
#3 Study Design Patterns
Knowing the core concepts and programing language features is critical. However, as a new developer, it’s important to go beyond the basics and study the abstract design patterns applicable to any language. This will make you a better problem solver and give you a means of communicating solutions to other developers.
Also, read other people’s code, all the time! Immersing yourself in the language, code, and patterns will not only make you better at what you do – it will also help you learn programming shortcuts for faster task completion.
#4 Know Your Tools and Resources
Beyond language shortcuts, hotkeys, and automations that make your job easier, you should understand the resources available to help you solve problems. Avoid getting comfortable with continuously using the same technologies and strategies. Instead, stay up-to-date on the latest innovations, so you’re prepared to provide value when opportunities present themselves.
You will also face challenges and struggles daily, making it imperative to find online resources that can quickly provide the information you need in order to avoid a total engagement standstill. In the age of StackOverflow and YouTube, there are a multitude of digital avenues to aid you in quickly discerning the correct next steps, without wasting precious project time.
#5 Perfect Practice Makes Perfect
Just like anything else, if you want to get better, faster, and/or more proficient at software development, you must practice. Stay motivated to constantly challenge yourself, learn from mistakes, and implement new code. Practice will help you grow quickly as a software developer and ultimately help you (and your team) succeed. Augment your daily work by seeking training on similar topics or others you are passionate about. There are a lot of resources from blogs, YouTube videos, or platforms like Pluralsight.
#6 Be Open to Asking Questions
Real-world experience is an excellent teacher. Building your experience means tapping into the resources around you (aka, your colleagues). Observe colleagues who have been doing the job longer than you to gain insight into how to be successful. Also, most co-workers welcome questions from new employees, so be curious and ask questions! Just be considerate of their time (no one likes to be peppered with rapid-fire questions all day long).
#7 Brace Yourself for Failure (So Much Failure)
It’s important to accept the fact that mistakes, missteps, and outright failures are typical for coders at every experience level. Even seasoned veterans in the field get it wrong sometimes – and so will you. The key is not to unravel with every error. Instead, use it as a learning opportunity to do it better next time. In many respects, developing software is more of a marathon than a sprint.
#8 Get Out of Your Coding Comfort Zone
It’s easy to hunker down into your coding comfort zone and only manage the things that are on your plate at any given moment. However, working as part of a team grants you an ideal career opportunity to cross-pollinate ideas and solutions with your coworkers. And don’t limit yourself to your fellow techies; a software developer can learn a lot interacting with members of the sales team, business analysts, and internal operations teams. Cross-pollination helps develop new skills and encourages well-rounded individuals. This is an ideal win/win scenario for the workplace and will help you understand the business, know your teammates better, and ultimately help you provide better technical solutions.
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