3 Habits to Skyrocket a Software Engineering Career
Advice from a real engineer based on personal experience
I’ve been working on software projects for more than 5 years and during this time I’ve developed 3 habits that helped me become a better engineer. I believe that habits is a great tool to change something in life for good with the least amount of effort and would love to share them with the tech community.
Evolve skills and knowledge
I imagine the tech industry is not only changing at the fastest rate than any other industry now, but also faster than any industry in all time of human being. If we add to this the fact that every other person now wants to join the field, it makes the IT domain even more competitive. But it is not a bad thing, anyone can use it to their own advantage. I personally love it because it gives an opportunity to passionate, enthusiastic and ambitious people with little or no experience to have a great career quite quickly. All one needs to do is to form a habit of learning new stuff.
We exist at a time of information abundance and whenever a new framework is announced, the next day new articles and educational videos are published covering the framework. Internet is a large library with answers to most of the questions and any engineer ranging from junior to senior can benefit from it.
For specialists that are stuck with their technology stack I recommend to explore something new. Backend developers may try new programming languages like Go or Rust, experiment with Kubernetes. Mobile engineers can play with new frameworks like SwiftUI, Combine or Jetpack Compose. Learning new stuff for frontend developers usually needs no mention as it is as vital as water for a human body. It definitely builds an intuition of where the tech is moving.
Communities is another way to prosper. People have been learning from each other by having conversations for thousands of years and nowadays it is not an exception. There are a number of conferences available in a variety of places covering most of the fields every year. By attending these events developers may grasp engineering culture and knowledge from other companies.
Plan efforts wisely
It is very tempting to start working on multiple projects, especially for young people. However, it's important to realize that there is only so much that one can do in a day, in a week, in a month and in a year. Therefore, it becomes very critical to plan things ahead. Prioritization and planning is an art that, I believe, any engineer needs to master in order to become efficient.
When I was studying at the university I had multiple side projects and at some point I couldn't keep up with them all, so I had to abandon some of them. After that I asked myself whether I want to complete projects that I start and build them so that I would be proud or continue following passions blindly. I really wanted to have finished projects, so I chose to plan my efforts in advance and it played well in my career.
Great minds often say: "People overestimate what they can do in a day, but underestimate what they can do in a month". I can relate and that's why it's so crucial to plan and become better at it.
Develop broad vision
When I just started my career I was mainly focusing on the tasks that I was given without realization of how my contribution fits into the whole picture of the project.
Few months later I became more curious about where the project is going and started asking senior colleagues about the roadmap and vision for the team. It immediately started paying off since I could offer a new perspective to the problems and in certain cases even simplify tasks and save engineering efforts. The team recognized it well.
Since then I always try to ask out-of-scope questions and create an end-to-end vision of the project I work on and it helps me to come up with a creative solution for business required problems.
These 3 habits allowed me to develop my career in IT pretty rapidly and I hope readers will find them useful and apply in their careers, too.