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Seven Best Tips for Aspiring Software Engineers

You are more than you think you really are.

Photo by ThisisEngineering RAEng on Unsplash

If you’re looking for some useful tips to enhance your career in Software Engineering, you have just come to the right place! A majority of the people tend to be reactive in nature and don’t realize that having certain heuristics before proceeding to embark on their goal can take them a long way.

Why do I write?

I myself am a Software Engineer in a Networking-based enterprise giant and have solemnly followed these tips which helped me really focus before and after securing the job. I’m sure it’d also be helpful to the people who are aiming for a career in Computer Science. So, let’s move on without any further ado!

Each tip written here is completely based out of my experience and might differ from another Software Engineer although I’m fairly confident that these would be the major parts among them.

Tip #1 — Focus on just one or two verticals, initially

I remember how I wasted (not exactly) my time by jumping from one domain of expertise to another in a very short span of time. I soon realized it led me to nowhere. There are a lot of booming technologies out there and it’s important to initially focus on one or two before switching to others. Try to find that niche that really excites you before you proceed to master it.

Though you could argue that exploring a lot of fields initially is what really paves us the way to research, this might not always be true.

Don’t try to learn Kubernetes, Machine Learning and React JS by scheduling time and acting smart. You’ll only end up having half-baked knowledge in the end.

You might have a sudden urge of excitement to study a topic just because it’s currently hot but it’s significant to realize that even the simplest of applications might contain intricate details under the hood. Constantly switching between areas only leads you to wander rather than focus!

Reap the rewards of learning a new skill by implementing it practically such that it solves a mundane task. After accomplishing this, you’ll be fairly confident and you can switch to new technology.

Tip #2 — Have a growth mindset

There might be some days when you don’t feel like learning or proceeding further. Whether you’re about to start a career in Software development or have a career spanning thirty years in tech, it’s always important to keep learning.

Recognizing when to read what superficially vs thoroughly is a great talent in itself. Unless you’re researching in that particular domain, it’s okay to learn a particular concept in a breadth-first manner rather than using a depth-first approach.

“No problem can withstand the assault of sustained thinking.” — Voltaire

As you focus on gaining a thorough understanding of the domain, you should also dabble in the new tools and frameworks constantly being developed. Don’t be surprised if you need to completely re-tool your skill set to match market demands. Having interests and experience outside your primary skill will always aid you in the end.

Tip #3 — Communication is way more important than coding

There will be times when you’ll need to communicate your research or act as an interface of communication to various people. By nature, Software Engineers tend to be introverted and hence find it difficult to be concise in their talk.

You’ll equally be dealing with e-mail and code all throughout your Software Engineering career and it’ll only make things more arduous if you’re not able to communicate fluently. I had faced this situation myself wherein I received an email from a developer and I couldn’t figure out if he was asking me a question or making a statement.

Make sure your e-mails and texts are brief and concise to the point rather than beating around the bush. Jargon-free and clear communication will not only help you here but in all other places as well.

Tip #4 — Get comfortable being uncomfortable

Imposter Syndrome happens almost with everyone and is fine for a short period of time. But, that should never ever become your point of weakness.

It’s the feeling you get when you start comparing yourselves with others. Remember, everyone is on a different path towards their destination and comparing your journey with others doesn’t make any sense.

Tackle the tasks which scare you. If you win, you can lead, If you lose, you can guide. Never be afraid to ask questions. You’re foolish only if you don’t always ask anything and you’re not expected to have answers to everything.

Tip #5 — Join and involve in technical communities

With all the information becoming universal and education going remote, it’s important to take advantage of this. Trying to excel in Software Engineering all alone is a tough task. Online communities are an excellent way to keep yourself updated.

Often, people have different perspectives on everything. Online communities help garner all of them under a single pane of glass and encourage us to think more.

Photo by tribesh kayastha on Unsplash

There are tons of them out there for each area of expertise. Try to attend those workshops, webinars and hands-on labs in which you’d like to gain additional knowledge. Follow great blogs and domain experts on Twitter who constantly share research happening in their fields.

Tip #6 — Find a great mentor

Finding a great mentor is hard and takes time. But, it’s completely necessary to gain invaluable insights from their career experiences and insights which they have already undergone.

Remember — people who have had great successes always had a support system behind them; people who guided them when they lost track.

Try to receive feedback often from people whom you admire and ask their opinions on how things could be further improved. Finding a great mentor and learning from them will really take you a long way in your life. Don’t forget to guide others in your journey as well!

Tip #7 — Code is not the end-goal. The product is.

This is extremely significant to realize (and is also my favorite tip). More often than not, Software Engineers get excessively obsessed with the code that they fail to consider how it’d fit into the final product which in the end will be ultimately used by customers.

“You’ve got to start with the customer experience and work back toward the technology — not the other way around.” — Steve Jobs

When you code something, you should always consider the product in tandem. This can help you grasp the bigger picture and change tracks in the middle rather than coding everything and recognizing the faults later.

So, these were my key takeaways and I hope I gave you a glimpse of the significant aspects necessary for aspiring Software Engineers. I’d love to hear your responses on this :).

Thanks for reading till the end of the post! I love sharing information in the hope that it would help people out there. I’d be writing more and your support would mean a lot! If you liked my writing, just hit the follow button on Medium. Connect with me on LinkedIn, Facebook or Twitter for any discussion on technology.

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Abishaik Mohan

Abishaik Mohan

Quality Engineer @ Extreme Networks

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