Having worked in the software development industry for nearly a decade, I wanted to take a step back and look back on the journey so far. When I initially began my career, for me, it was about getting on board with the latest technological trends, learning new things I was interested in, experimenting with it and just learning everything I can about the programming languages I was fascinated about. This was very interesting stuff for a young lad just out of University and I loved every moment of it. I am still an enthusiastic technical geek and would never stop learning as it is not just a career but a passion.
Pondering on the fact of whether it is just about being the best coder you can be, I have to say no. Being good at what you do is just the beginning. One of the important skills to build up when you progress in your career are your soft skills. That will encompass you reading, writing and very importantly, speaking skills. As you progress in your career, it is of paramount importance that you learn the art of communicating effectively with your peers/clients. Some of the best coders I have met during my career struggle when it comes to expressing their thoughts of what they are working on to the outside world only because of the fact that they really did not give much thought to improving their soft skills.
My father always said, if you want to improve your language, make reading a daily habit. This was something that was inculcated in me and my sister from our younger days. I remember my father handing me a copy of the “reader’s digest” one day. To be quite honest, I initially read just the “Laughter is the best medicine” and “All in a day’s work” sections because that was where the humor was. As the days went by, reading was like a daily routine in my life. I always made it a point to keep a dictionary with me (digital of course when the smart-phone era began) so when I came across a word I did not know, I stopped and learned it. Then I would find a way of remembering it by using it in an appropriate context.
Financial literacy is another important skill to possess as you progress in your career. Your software development career will make much more sense if you understood how your work contributes to the bottom line of your company. I am no expert in the financial domain, yet there are a few books out there that will help you understand the fundamentals that you need. “The Ten-Day MBA” is a very clear and concise book that explains the points in a straightforward manner.
Although most of the time the work of a developer is done in isolation, it is always best to be a bit more gregarious and maintain a personal relationship with your colleagues. Learning more about the people you work with will enable you to understand them better which in turn will help you maintain a better work relationship. I have the pleasure of working with an amazingly astute team currently. Having built a personal relationship with each one of them have enabled me to work better with them as they trust me on that personal level and we work together as one due to that relationship. There is no blame game played. If we fail, we fail as one. That is a strong bond to hold. Even after you leave a company, these relationships will remain.
In ending this short article, I would like to say these are just my personal opinions and I am sure people will have their own interpretations of the same and would definitely love to hear your views on the same. No matter where you are in your career, always remember the following quote as you progress.