Up until now, I never put much thought into what type of developer I am. I studied a full stack curriculum at Flatiron School and I've focused on both frontend and backend at different times of my career. The other day my teammate mentioned that we should all work toward becoming T-shaped developers. That was a new one for me. What in the world is a T-shaped developer?
After a bit of research I learned that a T-shaped developer embodies the best of both worlds between being a specialist and a jack of all trades. They are an experienced expert in one field with some knowledge in other areas too.
While full stack usually entails that knowledge is generalized across the board, a T-shaped developer is a shiny rebranded version of full stack. It has the well-roundedness of full stack with the added bonus of a specialized area of expertise.
In the following chart example, the teal background color shows my depth of knowledge in data integrations (the vertical part of the T) as well as breadth across frontend, backend, full stack, and mobile app development (the horizontal part of the T).
I omitted some skills from the teal area for the sake of making a perfect T-shape, so a truer representation of my skills would look more like an abstract shape scribbled by a toddler.
There's no clear-cut definition of which fields are included as part of the chart, and the shape's contents seem to be entirely customizable. We all know that being a software engineer encompasses more than just writing code all day, so the next example shows my skills in the software engineer column along with aspects of other roles that I take on regularly.
You see, the chart can look different for everyone. Our levels of expertise are subjective and relative, so I could argue that every developer is already a T-shaped developer!
Creating a personal chart is a great exercise to dive deep into your own levels of expertise. What do you think, are you a T-shaped developer?