Here are 10 Things I'd Tell My Younger Self About Programming:
- Don't be scared. It gets easier. Early on in my career, basic programming concepts like loops and arrays were difficult. With time and practice, programming concepts become straightforward.
- Work on your communication skills. Communication skills are more important than you think. The way you present yourself to a colleague or customer has a big impact on your career. Write good documentation and emails. Practice presentation skills. Even if you are the most skilled programmer, nobody will give you credit if you don't communicate well.
- Earn your master's degree in computer science as soon as possible. I earned my master's degree early on in my career. I wasn't motivated to do it, and I didn't quite see the benefit. But my master's degree has given me many opportunities such as career advancement, teaching, and my doctorate degree. Earning my master's degree is one of the best career moves I have ever made.
- Take detailed notes. You are going to learn a lot in this field. The information will be overwhelming at times. Keep detailed notes and refer to them often. This will accelerate your learning and demonstrate your ability to grasp concepts quickly.
- Ask questions, but ask them properly. You'll have lots of programming questions throughout your career. Before you ask a question, do your research. Understand the problem. Explain how you are approaching it. Describe your current difficulties. This will help someone help you. And never ask the same question twice! That's what your detailed notes are for.
- Find good mentors. Learning from other people is extremely effective. Teaching others benefits you too. Find a good mentor and have frequent technical discussions with that person. Be a mentor and be mentored by your peers. This personal exchange of information will accelerate your career.
- Plan your career. There is a saying: dress for the job you want, not the job you have. Think about where you want to be in your career in five years. Start planning for it by finding roles and responsibilities that give you experience for that career move. For example, if your next goal is to lead a development task, then spend some time with a current task leader and learn the role. Try to be a backup for that task leader to get real-world experience.
- Avoid obsolescence. Follow the technical industry trends and keep your skills current. Do not simply code in one language for your entire career; if that language becomes obsolete, then so will you. Look for training opportunities in future technologies. Read technical articles, blogs, and social media to keep a pulse on industry trends.
- Keep your resume updated. You never know when the right job opportunity might come. One day, you may be forced to find a new job. Keeping your resume updated will make it easier to find that next job.
- Start a side gig. Whether it’s a programming blog, book, website, or other personal project, a side gig is an excellent way to hone your skills. The side gig might even become your main gig one day.
Thanks for reading!
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