Things I will tell my younger self about being a developer

Ramya Venkatesh
Jan 4 · 3 min read

This year has been fascinating and challenging for me professionally. I have moved from being a senior developer to leading a team. It’s not something I thought I would do or get a chance to do this year. Nevertheless, opportunities opened up and I’m glad I took it.

It has been about 8–10 months since my daily routine at work changed. Over this period, I have realized a few things that I wish I had paid more attention to earlier. These are applicable even now, but it happens organically. How? My best guess is — without these aspects, it’s hard to be effective.

Take initiatives

  • Don’t expect a top-down set of instructions. Sooner or later, it will lead to stagnation. Have your own opinions and suggestions. Talk to your manager about it.
  • Ideas are great. If you believe in an idea, put some effort to show its value. This part is hard and it’s easy to put off, but it’s crucial to communicate things in the right way. A plan of execution will go along way in convincing people.

Expect some level of uncertainty at all times

  • It’s not possible to have things go according to plan all the time. There are multiple factors out of your control - company priority changed, people left, and some are out of everyone else’s control too - Covid, remote work, you get the idea. Wanting 100% clarity all the time will drain you out, it’s not worth it. Be flexible instead, life becomes easier.
  • Observe and take note of patterns where this happens repeatedly, raise your concerns. Don’t hold back. It’s important that others know if the uncertainty is troubling you.

Question status quo

  • If you’re not progressing, talk about it. Once you do, it’s okay to take your time, think about the discussion and go back for a follow-up if you’re still not convinced. Scratch the surface every once in a while.

Share feedback and do it often

  • If you want something, ask for it. If you don’t like something, mention it. Good feedback will be appreciated. If you don’t share feedback, don’t expect things to change.
  • Once you do give feedback, it is essential to follow-up if you care for a resolution.

It’s all about having an impact

  • This is the most significant one. Don’t run behind the shiny new thing. Even a small task well done is better than an endless task that “sounded” interesting.
  • Talk to your manager about what value you’re adding to the team/project and how you can do better. Understand how to measure impact too, pick what works for you.

I will admit that it can be taxing to keep all of this in mind, while also delivering projects, meetings, code reviews and a lot of other things you are already doing. At the very least, having a flexible mindset goes a long way. Once I accepted that these are the things that will help me, it became a tad bit easier.