If you are a great developer, there will always be a market for you. However, landing a job in a global, innovative company calls for more than a degree in computer science. Successful software developers never stop learning. They always look forward to solving problems, and they are highly sought after due to their ability to think creatively. So, how can an elite developer be separated from the rest? Read on to see what can put you ahead of the competition.

1. Do not sell yourself with one specialization

The days are gone where developers sought to impress employers with a single skill, such as being a C++ or Java specialist. The technological landscape of the contemporary world requires you to be flexible. This means a developer has to be knowledgeable in various languages. Yes, people have preferences and expertise in various fields, but it is imperative to take those specifications as strengths and not limitations. Employers look for software developers who can learn new skills easily, and ones that do so in a skilled manner. A developer can showcase his prowess on Github, and this will attract many employers.

2. Take note of the basics

Learning how to program and learning a programming language are two distinct things. A great developer has the ability to pinpoint problems and envisage smart solutions. An algorithm is basically a logic problem, and a developer should be able to explain it to a layman regardless of the complexity. The developer should also be able to diagram the problem on a board. Great developers have the ability to understand languages, frameworks, and an array of programming tools, but any problem should be unraveled in the abstract. Developers who have honed the basic skills in programming find it easy to identify commonalities. For instance, once a developer understands that PHP and Javascript are object-oriented languages that make use of first-class functions, they can easily learn one language after the other.

3. Successful developers focus on learning the underlying language as opposed to the framework

Frameworks are temporal regardless of how popular they become, such as Ruby on Rails. Maybe White Rails will be preferred by many software developers. It could be simpler than Volt or Sinatra, as developers try to work on large scale web apps, and it can save time as well as deliver adequate functionality. If a developer takes time to learn Ruby or any other underlying language, they  will have an easy time pivoting between various frameworks.

4. Launch out to different tiers

There has been a debate as to whether one can still become a full-stack software developer. The increasing ubiquity of Elastic Beanstalk from Amazon and Heroku, both of which are Platform as a Service (PaaS), has made a clear distinction between the server and client side. Specialists in software development no longer handle tasks such as provisioning capacity for a new server, since they can be done in an automated manner through cloud services. A developer who is a familiar with a few cloud services is better placed. Developers should not use Platform as a Service as an excuse for not understanding the basics of the OS kernel. It isn’t enough to say an automated program cannot break. There should be someone with the right skills to correct the anomaly in case it does.

5. Understand technology trends

If a developer chooses a certain area of expertise, this is synonymous to placing a bet on where technology is headed. A person who sought to become a mainframe developer a decade ago was said to be shortsighted. Likewise, anyone who works hard to become a system administrator is headed towards a dead-end in their career. As a developer, analyze critically where technology is going. There are programs and specific languages which are highly sought-after in the current world. Swift is one of them, but as new apps keep coming, we might see Swift being relegated to other areas such as mobile game development. All other systems will shift to HTML5 and an array of cross-platform languages.

6. Practice everyday

The stack you learn does not really matter - what matters is learning by doing. You have to dedicate time to understanding your new craft. One day is not enough to become the great developer you want to be. Learning is a continuous process, and you cannot become a renowned software developer after 20 hours of practice. There are those who say you need 10,000 hours to become an expert software developer. For you to land a job as a software developer, you not only need the 10,000 hours of practice, you also need dedicated time. For instance, it takes over 800 hours to fully understand Full Stack Web Development. It is not a one day job.

7. Make use of tools used by great developers

The internet is full of free resources such as Codecademy. However, it is not a real programming world since you type your code directly into the web, and you are graded based on the score you get from the quiz or other interactive activity. You will not be working like this in the real world. It is important to learn like any other developer, using real tools. This makes it easier to learn any new skill in programming, and makes it easier to transition. It may be hard to use tools used by real developers if you are a beginner, but you should persevere. Online programs such as Learn Verified will help you learn various software development tools. The site uses basic processes and tools used by software developers, such as Test-driven development, Git and GitHub, Group projects, and working on your terminal. You can adapt to become a great developer if you add these to your training manuals.

8. Study other developer’s code

If you aspire to be a great developer, find ways of learning other people’s code. Browse GitHub repositories and read the codes. You could get wrong documentation, but you will never get a wrong source code. If you learn how to read the source code, you will understand how it is written, and how it functions. Learning other people’s code is also critical when it comes to debugging, since you will be required to understand the erroneous code.

Though many people overlook this skill, it is beneficial to see how great developers think and how they write code. Do not just skim through the code. Dive deep into it, learn the dos and don’ts, recreate it if possible, and understand the functionality. Try to reverse-engineer a given code, and you will understand how to create your own.

9. Belong to a community

If you are just beginning to hone your skills as a software developer, it is important to find a community to learn with. If you surround yourself with like-minded people your support system is wide, and you can turn to them whenever you are stuck. It is possible to lose motivation as you develop code, especially if it is not working. An online community can be a great inspiration.

It is not easy to become a successful software developer, since there are many disappointments. You will get frustrated in many aspects, and you might think it is too hard at times. But, it is doable! You can even achieve it on your own. There are testimonies of people who have successfully transitioned into software development through hard work.

Is there any tip you would like to add from your experience? Let us know your thoughts below!

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Ilmoitettu 6 syyskuuta, 2017

LucyKarinsky Henkilökunta

Software Developer

Lucy is the Development & Programming Correspondent for Freelancer.com. She is currently based in Sydney.

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