Through a time of learning - whether it’s formally in college or on your own time at your own pace - you have all the base to be the developer you want to be. So congratulations on becoming a software developer! But if you want to take a step further and be among the top developers - dare I say, the best - then keep on reading because we’ve compiled a list for you!
Adopt good habits and continuously learn to reinvent yourself and you will be where you want to be. Whether you are a beginner wanting to join the developer community, just starting on your first job, or have already worked with software development for months or years, this guide will still be perfect for you!
Find a great mentor
There will always be a higher mountain, and people who are more experienced and have a higher skill set than you. Surround yourself in that environment. If learning to develop starts feeling easy, take the next step and continue challenging yourself. Only by striving to become better than you were yesterday will you translate that aim into reality. Find a great mentor along the way and on every step of your learning journey. “Great” here means both in skill and in the person, who is willing to teach you what they know instead of fearing you will outlearn them.
This goes without saying that learning is continuous and never-ending. But just telling ourselves to “learn” can be vague and demotivating. How exactly do you learn to be a top developer? Here is a list of some tips on what to learn.
1. Research before coding
The first thing to do when you’re given the task to code an app or a feature, don’t jump to it right away! Some will skip the step to research and just start coding, which isn’t the best turn to take especially when you’re trying to become a top developer. Read the documentation and see how other codes were written. When you do your research, you will be able to learn from others and notice different ways they’ve approached the code as opposed to your usual way, and it could be simpler and more efficient! Especially when the technology is still evolving every second, new coding tactics and skills arise out of the blue and forces you to catch up with it. And if not, you will lag behind the fresh developers who gain the latest knowledge right from the start.
Aside from researching the code, remember to research your end-users as well. If you can put yourself in the shoes of the customers who will be using this application, you can better understand whether this is the most optimal way to code that app or feature. Are you solving the problem the end-user needs to solve with ease? Is it simple to navigate and use for someone seeing it for the first time? Code with these questions in mind!
2. Prioritize simplicity
The world is becoming more simple, everywhere you look, minimalism is applied. In logos, in designs, and daily life. And the same thing should happen in your code. It isn’t for aesthetics, but clarity and minimum risks. Optimize your code for better performance and fewer errors. The better you become at coding, the smaller your codebase should be!
3. Work with others
Chances are, you won’t be coding on that app or feature alone. Collaborating with team members who have different skills can help you learn a bit about their side of coding. Having a diverse skill set in a team can help accomplish more goals and accelerate the process. Creative ideas and new ways to code can mean a well-refined final project.
Practice makes perfect
You won’t become a top developer overnight, although if a Genie grants you the opportunity you should probably take it. After you finish this article, go write some code! Code every single day. Hone that skill. And it might sound cliché but “practice makes perfect”. Writing code every day keeps your skills sharp, helps you learn new languages and technologies, and helps you work on what you love. If you get bored or tired of whatever you’re doing, make it fun and switch to a different language. Do whatever to keep your learning journey going and practice!
Follow industry leaders
Learn from the best! You may have your mentor, but they have their mentors as well. Looking at tech leaders and successful developers, you may be filled with aspirations, motivations, and envy. Follow these people online, read up on what they write about to always keep things in perspective, and avoid falling into the proverbial “black hole of techno-babble”.
Many fear failure but don't be afraid to go wrong. No one gets it on the first try, but the people who succeed after they fall are the ones who have learned from it. Understanding your mistakes is a part of learning, and it will take you very far. If someone found a problem in your code, thank them for pointing it out. Reread your code, how can you improve it? What if you believe that part of the code should stay the way it is? Check if both ways make sense, it doesn't mean anyone is wrong, it just means the code is expected differently by them and by you. And that’s perfectly normal to disagree. Keep an open mind and seize every learning opportunity. Stay humble, make mistakes, and learn!
Work on what interests you in your free time or on the weekends aside from work. By having one or a few passion projects of your own, you will learn to plan something from beginning to end, hold yourself accountable, plan out your architecture, and more. Of course, since this is a one-person project (unless you and a few others work together), the workload should be smaller than that of a company team. If the project is big and ambitious, it will take you more time than if you had a full group working on it. You’re the investor, the project manager, and the developers in and of themselves. But it interests you, it helps you learn things you didn’t think of learning which gives you an idea of what your teammates are doing at work. Passion projects are learning opportunities in disguise!
They say you know when you’ve mastered a skill is when you can teach it. Give back to your community by doing what your mentors have done. Become one. Teach your peers and friends, teach the people who want to learn the skills you already have. This not only solidifies your knowledge but also expands others. The more you teach, the easier the topic becomes. You might find yourself learning with your pupil while teaching with both of you figuring out a new direction or new ways to code a feature.
Take care of yourself
Last but not least, take care of your health. Stay hydrated, and full, get enough sleep, and don’t forget daily exercises. It can be easy to be carried away when you focus on coding. When you only see the code in front of you, you ignore the rumbling stomach, dry throat, sore muscles, or fatigue all over. But they are very loud signs that you need to start taking care of yourself.
How will you learn and generate creative ideas when your body is complaining continuously? Exercising and staying healthy will boost your memory and thinking, directly and indirectly. It helps with your mood, and sleep reduces stress and anxiety. Just as important as it is to become the best in your field, it is important to tend to your mental and physical needs as well.
Becoming a top developer takes time, some take months, some take years, so don’t worry if you’ve been aiming for it for a long time but have yet to achieve it. Stay “in the zone” and make sure to consistently challenge yourself. Don’t start something too hard as you may become overwhelmed and drop the project altogether. Stick with a daily practice routine and you’re already halfway to becoming a top developer. Don’t be afraid to stumble and fall, pick yourself back up and go. Be kind to yourself and learn!
Dirox is always looking for new talents! Do you think you have got what it takes?
At Dirox, we highly value wellbeing in our workplace, and inspire our employees to take the best care of themselves, through personal & professional training programs, languages classes, engaging activities, and policies to accommodate your way of life.
Learn more about us by visiting our website and consulting our job offers.
Started in 2003 in Ho Chi Minh City Vietnam, our Development Company operates on a Global Scale in Asia, Europe, and America. Dirox’s team of technology consultants, business gurus, software & apps coders, and design visionaries bring you innovative solutions on time, on budget, and on quality. We strive to bring you the best IT outsourcing & offshore services.