5 tips to help new software developers find their footing

Maybe you’re entering your first software development job. Maybe you’re currently searching for it. Maybe you’re learning to code and researching a software development career.

No matter how far into the start of your career you are, entering any new job is nerve-wracking. Every job comes with a learning curve, and you need to find your footing before you can settle in. Software development is no different.

For new software developers, it can be unclear what you need to do to best settle into the dev team. So, whether you’re a graduate fresh out of uni, self-taught at home, or somewhere in between, these five tips are here to help you find your footing in the world of software development.

1.    Be familiar with multiple coding languages

For new software developers starting out, it’s better to be familiar with multiple coding languages. You will likely choose to specialise on one or two later, but you don’t need to rush into a niche. You don’t need to be an expert in every language. But being familiar with the different syntaxes of the most popular languages can be incredibly useful.

Different companies, and different projects and tasks, will prefer different languages and styles. Knowing more than one language, then, opens more opportunities. Being familiar with multiple coding languages helps you build stronger overall programming knowledge. You’ll see the similarities between languages, and identify higher-level concepts relating to the way code works. (For example, loops, call-backs, conditions, etc.)

When you have a strong understanding of how coding works overall, it becomes easier to adapt to new languages — all you need is the syntax.  Plus, knowing different languages gives you a view of some different perspectives, and can help you better understand your primary language (or languages).

2.    Don’t neglect your soft skills

Forget the image of the lone tech genius tapping away at a keyboard in a darkened room. That idea is a myth. While there is time spent quietly coding and contemplating in software development, coding know-how isn’t the only feather that new software developers need in their caps.

An integral part of working in software development is the ability to work as part of a team. So, new software developers need to nurture their soft skills — the ability to interact effectively with other people — as much as their coding knowledge.

Think of it this way: you can always practice and improve on your programming skills. If you can’t work as part of a team, though, you’ll have a hard time settling into a dev office.

NB: New software developers need soft skills, but this doesn’t mean they have to be extroverted party animals in order to succeed and fit in. The ability to communicate, compromise and work as a team is what’s sought after.

3.    Make sure you understand the problems you’re solving

It can be easy for new software developers to shut out the rest of the world and focus solely on the code. But before you rush to the keyboard, you need to consider the problems that you’re attempting to solve and the core utility of the product you’re making. Failing to do so often results in feature creep and wasting time solving problems that don’t exist.

If you don’t understand the problem, you can’t use code to solve it effectively. Different people approach things in different ways. When you can understand both the problem they’re facing, and the way they approach it, you can work with them to code a better solution — one that works for them.

So, before jumping into the code, always take the time to consider the problem and the people that you’re solving it for.

4.    Keep working on your own projects

For both new software developers and those more experienced, there are a plethora of benefits to working on personal projects. They provide a foundation for you to find your footing throughout your career; to try new things and pursue your interests.

First, working on your own project in your free time is a great way to hone your hard skills and problem-solving abilities. It gives you a platform to test out new tools or ideas, without worrying about deadline pressures.

As code and tech continue to evolve, it’s important to keep practising your skills and problem-solving in order to find (and retain) your footing. By doing so, you deepen your understanding of code and fill any gaps in your knowledge.

Plus, working on your own projects is a way to keep following your own interests. This will help you retain your passion and interest in coding, developing and software. You’re working at something you love, whether you’re at work or at home.

5.    Enjoy it!

Which leads to the final — and perhaps most fundamental — tip to help new software developers find their footing: enjoy what you do.

Programming requires constant thinking, learning and problem-solving. When you love the code, love the errors (and fixing them) and love finding innovative ways to solve problems, you’ll love being a software developer.

Good luck

So, for all the new software developers out there, finding your footing in software development is as simple (and complex) as having faith in your ability. Be inquisitive, love what you do, and be friendly. When you do those things, you’ll have a stable footing in the world of software development in no time.

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