Best career advice for developers

So you are looking into becoming a web or mobile app developer but are looking for some advice. Should you keep your head down and do what you’re told or should you aim only for ambitious projects? Should you expect a high salary? How much should you ask for? These a lot of the common question we come by here at KeepCoding. It´s important to understand your experience will be unique. No coders experience or success is the same as another.

Recognize only you are responsible and in charge of your education and progress

It´s crucial to look out for yourself. Don’t ask for more work unless you can trust that person to give you better work or work that would lead to better training and opportunies than you’d get otherwise. It´s important be able to differentiate between projects that deserve your full time and effort and others that are time draining. If your work and effort are not on the path toadvancing your career or teaching you something; no career-adding value, people skills, new opportunities, etc then know when to walk away.

Prioritize, and prioritize again

Keep asking yourself if you are solving the right problem and if it is the right problem to solve right now. You might be wasting time on the wrong problem or be able to save it for later. A lot of time is wasted by solving the wrong problem.

Read other people’s code

Reading code is not easy. Not only is it hard work, it is boring, cause let’s face it, any code not written by you just sucks. But the fact is that it’s a great way to learn. If you encounter idioms, libraries, patterns or techniques that seem unfamiliar, explore them further until you feel ready to try them in your own code. Being comfortable with reading code written by others is very important for doing code reviews within your team or across teams, working on open source projects, or troubleshooting open source libraries you’re using in your own projects.

Always have a couple of side projects going to keep your mind sharp

Having side projects is important. Your work isn´t always going keep your mind sharp or challenge you to become better. When things at work aren’t keeping you too busy or challenging you sufficiently, spend more time on your side projects during after-hours and weekends. Use your side projects to add new skills to your tool set and experiment with technologies and practices — a luxury you may not have at work, given the usual pressure to get functionality released in the shortest possible time.

Separate Creative and Tedious work

Do the creative problem solving work when you are fresh, do the tedious work when you are lagging (like after lunch). By staggering the types of work over the day you can use more of your time productively.

Find a good mentor

At KeepCoding we cannot stress more on the importance of a good mentor. A good mentor will not only help you to improve as a developer but will advice you on how to proceed in your career. The absolute fastest way to learn is to pair program with someone who has more experience than you. It is also important that you drive the process, while the more experienced person helps you navigate.

Don´t over work yourself and have a burn out

Make sure that you are taking time for yourself, eating well, getting in some excerise, and sleeping well. Everyoen knows that after 8–9 hours of working that your productivity level starts to decrease drastically. Understand what your end goals are and make sure that you have a good healthy quality of life. Learn to say no when work is done and do something you love besides programming.

Attend meetups, networking events and listen to industry podcasts

It´s important to connect with other coders and hear their struggles, challenges, and successes. Programming can be lonely. Rome didn't become to the empire it was by itself. Whether you are shy or prefer being alone, being shy has never helped anyone.

Be good at your job, and get results

You want people to know you as ‘that guy who always makes progress and gets things done.’ That’s the sort of person who gets recommended when a recruiter is looking around and asking “who else should we be recruiting?”

Find the right company to work for

You need to work for a company that explicitly, culturally values software engineers. This eliminates most of non-core-software companies. e.g. working for universities and governments will almost never get you to a high salary. Even in core tech companies, not all of them value software engineering talent equally. e.g. there is a wide compensation difference between offers at IBM and Google.

Only work for growing companies

It is often difficult to find which company is growing fast enough (from outside), but you have to gauge that in the interview. Only growing companies will give you a growth path. A for-profit company exists for only one purpose: to grow fast. If they are not growing fast enough, then they are dead and not worth your time. Move on and find something else.

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