10 things my friends and I are doing to be even better developers in 2017

2016 was a blast, but I asked my friends what they’re doing in 2017 to become even better developers!

1. Read more books

A glimpse into the book collection we keep at Code School.

Although my main focus is JavaScript, I’m attempting to read a few programming classics, with a sprinkle of other related topics I am generally interested in. Below are a few titles on my list so far (currently looking for more!).

2. Build more products

This idea is from Erik Aybar, and it’s so true! It’s easy to get lost in deeply technical arguments, like which technology is best to accomplish a certain goal. But, truthfully, individuals actually using our apps couldn’t care less how the app was built. They’re more interested in how useful it is and what they can get out of it.

Understanding the other side can only make us better engineers. The decisions behind which tech stack to use will also be influenced, but with other priorities in mind: How easily can we implement new features? How’s the ramp-up for new developers as the team grows? I’m excited about building actual sustainable products in 2017!

3. Require more code reviews

I borrowed this one from Steven Petryk, and I happen to totally agree with him! Peer reviews are a great way to increase the quality of codebases. But even besides quality, there’s just something about working in community toward a goal that feels even better than working by yourself.

4. Teach more

In 2017, I’m hoping to mentor more developers. Personally speaking, helping developers who are newer in the field is a great way to give back to the community, with the added bonus of keeping my skills sharp.

5. Learn one new thing a day

Phil Palmieri suggested I learn something new every day, even if it’s something small, just commit to keep learning. Personally, I’m going to take more Code School and Pluralsight courses. Just because I work here doesn’t mean I get to check out every piece of teaching material that comes out, but I will make it a point to branch out more.

6. Find a hobby

A peek inside the arcade machine at Code School.

As developers, it’s easy to let our coding skills consume our lives, both as our job and our main hobby. So in 2017, I want to find a hobby that doesn’t involve what I do at my job all day — though it may still be something that’s related to coding, like playing around with Arduino boards. Gina Piscitelli said she has a lot of artsy projects on the side, so maybe I’ll give that a try myself with some oil painting classes.

7. Further diversify my skill set

Speaking of branching out, for 2017 I’d love to follow David Khourshid’s tip and continue to diversify my skill set. While I don’t necessarily want to stop focusing on learning JavaScript, revisiting algorithms and other concepts I haven’t seen in a while would be nice. Learning brand new topics would be great too — for instance, I’ve had Elixir on my radar for a while, so this might be a good time to learn it.

8. Attend (and speak) at more tech events

My Staying Sane (dot) JS talk from Nodevember 2016.

2016 was the first year I started organizing, attending, and even speaking at a ton of tech events. Naturally, I learned a lot and made many amazing connections through it all. So, be it local meetups or remote conferences, it’s my goal to keep attending more tech events.

9. Improve my presenting skills

I’ve recently discovered that I really love speaking in public. I’ve done quite a bit of speaking at meetups and conferences and have reached a point that I need to add some methodology to my process, rather than just winging it every time. So per Taylor Jones’ idea, I will be looking for ways to improve my presenting skills.

10. Find a mentor

One of my favorite things about being a developer is that there’s always someone, somewhere, doing something amazing, perhaps almost unimaginable, that I’d like to be doing myself. This year, I’m going to follow Eric J Fisher’s advice and find someone who’s more skilled than me in an area I’m interested in and ask them to help me grow in that area.

I hope some of these ideas inspired you to seek out ways you can become an even better developer in the new year! Is there something you’re planning on doing that I didn’t mention here? Feel free to reach out via Twitter or add comments to this post.

Happy 2017, everyone! 🎉 🎊