10 Things To Boost Your IT Career In 2020

First job

Your first job won’t determine your whole career, but it can jumpstart it or slow it down. If you get stuck on your first job not only you will lose your time, you won’t improve much and later it can be more difficult to switch to better job if you didn’t learn basics because companies will require some level of knowledge from you since you won’t be beginner anymore. If you’re not satisfied with your improvement on first job, at least you will know what are you unsatisfied with and what to look for in the next job, which is good, better late than never.

  • Experience: on your first job you probably won’t get much money, but you can get good experience. You will gain it by working on interesting projects, learning fundamentals of software development.
  • Mentorship: having someone you can ask for advice or help with something you don’t know or understand is one of the most important things in your improvement on first job. If you don’t have it, you will have to work on your own, which may lead you to learning things wrong. Experienced mentor will teach you how software development is done right, best practices, how to learn new things, solve problems and much more.
  • Company culture: working in a toxic and high-pressure environment is not something that is desirable for someone who is starting to work. It can indirectly influence you to adopt some wrong things, like become a bad team player due to high competitiveness, for example, which can be problem in some of your next jobs, where there is fine company culture developed and team work is highly valued.

Find your domain

Times when one could do all in software development are past. There are so many components now, so many things to pay close attention, and technologies for all that, that there is no way one can know it all well. And that is totally fine. If we split software development and master our part, we will be able to develop new things and solve problems much faster. After learning fundamentals of software development, you should find your niche, start from it. After you master it, you can expand your circle of interests and learn new things.

Master it

After you choose your desired niche, you need to learn as much as you can about it. Read books, articles, blog posts, watch courses, video tutorials, listen podcasts. Prepare yourself for coming projects. You can start with basic concepts, use it right away on some project (if you don’t have chance to do it in your work time, do in on your free time, practice), and then broaden your knowledge with more details, more complex problems and concepts.

Continue to learn

Ability to learn new things is one of the most demanded skill in IT industry right now. Technologies are rapidly evolving, new ones are developed every couple of months and we need to be up to date with them, otherwise we will become useless, once our technology become irrelevant. Keep up with trending stuff in your domain, make a turn to some other technology on time, if needed.

  1. Clean Code: A Handbook of Agile Software Craftsmanship by Robert C. Martin - You will read some interesting stories from Uncle Bob, learn how to write clean code for start and learn some basic concepts in programming.
  2. Cracking the coding interview by Gayle Laakmann McDowell - When you want good preparation for job interview.
  3. TED Talks: The Official TED Guide to Public Speaking by Chris Anderson - If you are inspired by TED Talks and want to give such a presentation who can teach you better than TED curator himself?
  4. The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey - Concepts written 30 years ago are still valid.
  5. How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie - Learn the ways to make people like you, to win people to your way of thinking, and to change people without arousing resentment.

Ask questions

People tend to think that asking questions makes them look weak, vulnerable, not enough prepared, etc. It doesn’t. You should ask a lot a of questions. Everything you don’t understand. Ask until you’ve got it, until you can use it to solve concrete problem. People won’t judge you when you ask something but won’t be amused when you can’t answer the question on matter you should have understood by now.

Save for later

People have limitation on remembering (they do have unlimited storage for information but at cost of fetching them when they need them). In these times, you need to remember almost nothing. You always have your mobile phone, laptop, notes, you can write and store anything. Why is this important? Some information you once heard on a meeting can worth a lot later when you are in the middle of solving a problem. Or it can be real disaster when you can’t remember if project manager said it will be 1 thousand or 1 million users on that new application you are working on? It is ok to ask for that information, but you could already have it if you wrote it right away, so you won’t lose time finding information again. Having information stored for later will help you come up with the idea for the solution much faster. When you look at things that you wrote, you will connect the dots easier than connect them from your head directly. If you are a genius with brilliant mind you can skip this part.

Listen

Before you write — listen. On the meetings, planning, check-ins with your supervisor: listen. And don’t just listen to hear but listen with great concentration, to understand. Be sure to connect the dots and understand how all things works. That is your unique chance to ask questions if you don’t understand something. If you listen carefully and understand, you will have greater chances on coming up with good idea for some solution.

Be humble. Work hard.

Nothing comes free. Being good or extraordinary software engineer requires hard work and dedication, just like in many other professions. If you work and practice results will come.

Be a team player. Share.

When companies publish jobs’ description, there is usually requirement called team player. (If there is not, it’s probably some kind of scam, or you will be asked to work alone in the basement.) As mentioned before, it is rare that one person does all work on one project, it is mostly group of people, often several groups or teams. To make everything works well, they need to be team players, communicate with each other, share good practice, ask for help etc. One doesn’t and shouldn’t bang head against the wall if something doesn’t go well. It’s okay to ask colleagues for help. Also, it is okay to help your colleague if he/she has problems with some task. If you are done with your task and have some spare time, ask your colleague if you can help them with their tasks. If one of the colleagues can’t finish their work in specified deadline, check if you can pause your task and help him/her deliver the initiative/project. They will help you when you’re in the same situation.

Leave

Make evaluation of conditions in your current company from time to time. Some of the factors to look at are given in the first section. If you are not satisfied with your position, or you are not making progress as you expected, maybe you should consider other companies. You are not tied to one company, you should work where you feel most comfortable and where your conditions are met. But be open and honest with yourself, did you work hard? Did you do everything you could to achieve your goals? If you are switching jobs without special reasons, or because of something trivial you didn’t like in previous company, situation won’t be much different in next one.

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Amel Halilovic

Amel Halilovic

Senior Software Engineer and Writing Enthusiast.