How to Take Your Software Development Career to the next Level
Taking your software development career to new and exciting levels is possible if you’re willing to put in the time and effort. That’s mainly because software development, as a field, is as intricate as its diverse. On top of that, it is a fast-paced environment, which means you need to adjust to changes in this line of work incredibly fast to stay relevant.
Since taking a software development career to the next level can be challenging, the following tips may come in handy. Whether that means boosting your revenue or clinching the top position in your organization.
6 Tips to Advance Your Software Development Career
We listed the following tips in no particular order, so pick what works for you. Examine areas that you need to improve, and make the necessary adjustments.
Tip#1: Start with a Career Growth Plan
A popular adage says, “If you fail to plan, you’re planning to fail.” If you want to grow your software development career, you must start with a carefully laid-out plan.
Why is starting with a plan important?
According to Jappreet Sethi, “Your career growth plan will provide a touchstone for measuring the desired outcomes to which you and your manager have agreed to.”
In other words, a plan outlines your expectations and goals. After all, if you don’t know what you want, how do you expect to get there? Ask yourself questions such as “What is success to you?”, “Where would you like to be in, say, five years from now in terms of career growth?”
A plan allows you to chart your career path. It allows you to set realistic goals and timelines. It also helps you to track success. With a plan, you can easily tell whether your software development career is growing or stagnating.
If you don’t know where to start, simply pick a pen and piece of paper and write down where you’d like to take your career. Next, write down how you will achieve the transition to the next level of your career. Make your goals and timelines realistic and get down to work. If need be, here are a couple of career planning resources to help you along the way.
Another important thing to keep in mind when charting a career growth plan is your strengths and weaknesses. Create a plan that leverages the power of your strengths while eliminating your weaknesses. A clear understanding of your strengths and weaknesses will also help you to fill gaps in technical skills and other relevant skills you need to grow your career.
Tip#2: Find a Mentor
While you can become a success all by yourself, a mentor can make the process easier and faster. A mentor is a more talented person who has achieved what you’re trying to achieve. In our case, that’s career growth. It’s a shame many people shy away from the idea of mentorship.
If you’re just starting out in software development, your mentor could be a senior developer within your organization. If you freelance, your mentor could be a tech leader in the industry. Point is, a mentor should be a more experienced person who can hold your hand as you climb the career ladder.
Why is a mentor important to begin with?
Firstly, a mentor is highly knowledgeable in the field. You can greatly benefit from deep or insider knowledge that your peers can’t access. The knowledge a mentor shares with you can mean all the difference between the success or failure of your career.
Secondly, a mentor can help you set realistic career goals. Why? Because they have been where you are, and now they are where you want to go. They have learned the ropes and discovered the pitfalls to avoid. They now which path to follow (or which goals to prioritise) to grow a career in software development.
Thirdly, a mentor is the best possible source of feedback, both positive and negative. And we all know you need feedback if you are to take your software development career to the next level. Software developers aren’t known for their ability to take negative feedback, but a mentor can make all the difference.
Fourthly, a mentor offers you more networking opportunities. They have been in the market for longer and know more people than you. A good mentor can help you to connect with important people and brands in the industry in turn bettering your prospects.
If you don’t know where to start, Codementor.io is a great source of software development mentors.
What do most, if not all, people do when they want to improve or change anything? You guessed it right, they learn. Are looking to take your software development career to the next level? Of course you do. And do you know what you must do? You must learn and learn so more.
There is value is having a rich educational background in software development. Things change so fast, and you must possess the right education to compete favorably in the market. Or as Maryville University puts it, “There’s always something new to learn in the computer software industry. Companies need tech experts who can keep track of the trends — in apps, agile systems, interface design — and use it to their strategic advantage.”
Don’t just sit and be comfortable with a bachelor’s degree in software development. Invest in additional schooling like the masters program for example. Any additional schooling beyond an entry level or average education offers you even more possibilities to grow your software development career.
In addition, go beyond software development. Learn about the business as a whole. Even better, brush up on soft skills, leadership skills, team skills and other areas you need to improve. Becoming a fantastic all-round worker who provides tangible results should be your overarching goal as far as education goes.
Endeavor to get certification as well. If you take a new course, complete it as required and get certification. Certified software developers are always in demand, plus it offers you an edge over your peers who don’t have similar accreditation.
Tip#4: Work on Personal, Open-Source or Volunteer Projects
Don’t focus only on your job. If you want to take your software development career to the next level, you must be ready to work on personal, open-source or even volunteer projects. Personal projects allow you to improve your technical skills and grow a portfolio.
Open-source projects expose you to new ideas, people and can make a great part of your portfolio. Consider, for example, the guys who contribute to the WordPress open-source project. The platform powers over 27% of the internet now, and I can bet all my money that any developer who contributed to the project won’t struggle to land a job.
Is there a non-profit organization in your area that could use your software development skills? Go to them and help out. It opens doors to more opportunities and make you a great person. In other words, it makes you the software developer that everybody wants to work with.
Tip#5: Teach Others What You Learn
Teaching others what you learn is a great way of solidifying your knowledge and earning the revered expert status. Have you learned a new programming language? Perhaps you’ve discovered a new way of solving a particular problem. Don’t hold back; share the knowledge on your blog.
Sharing knowledge helps you to deepen your own understanding and that’s a fact. On top of that, you will quickly become the expert that every person runs to when they have a problem that you’ve already demonstrated you can solve.
Sharing information is especially important for the freelance software developer trying to create a brand. Teaching others what you learn can open doors to unlimited possibilities, which could only mean good things for your career growth.
Tip#6: Develop Your Network
Do you dream of growing your software development career beyond your wildest dreams? Start developing your network today. Surround yourself with like-minded people, do your best work and you’re on your way to a successful career. Do the opposite and you’ll come down crashing.
We know software developers aren’t social butterflies, and we prefer sitting behind a computer screen for hours to attending conferences and meetups. However, meetups, conferences and networking events are great avenues to grow your career. Simply search “find software development events” in Google and you’re golden.
Thanks to the internet, you can now attend meetups virtually. On top of that, feel free to join online software development communities such as Stack Overflow, CoderWall and Hashnode among others. On such communities, you’re bound to meet many other software developers, which is great news for your career advancement endeavors.
Taking your software development career to the next level is challenging but doable. With the above tips, you have all the firepower you need to reboot your career and grow. Which are your favorite career growth tips? Let us know in the comments.