Software engineering is one of the fastest-growing sectors, and the best software engineers are in high demand. This means that earning potential is promising, but that’s not the only reason that people are pursuing software engineering as a career. The career can be incredibly challenging and, therefore rewarding, requiring creativity, problem-solving skills, and opportunities for collaboration, and almost endless progression. Of course, just like any other career, you will get out of it what you put in. If you are just starting out and hoping to give yourself the best chance of success, here are nine ways to boost your software engineering career.
Learn from a mentor
There is no training quite like the training you can get from someone who has been there and done it. This is why finding and learning from a mentor, an experienced software engineer, should be top of your list. It is usually best to find a mentor who works at a different company as they will be able to give objective advice, and you will be able to discuss your career plans without any potential conflict of interest. They do not necessarily need to be an expert, but someone with more experience than you will be able to provide valuable insight.
Hone your communication skills
Some people assume that being a software developer is a very technical role that involves a lot of independent work. While this is true to an extent, the best software developers are those who have excellent communication skills so they can discuss projects with their team and software users. They need to be able to present and explain technical concepts in an accessible way and listen to what others tell them to ensure that their work meets all the necessary requirements and standards.
Keep researching and studying
When you start out in a career, it can feel like everyone else on your team are experts, and you will never know as much as them. In reality, everybody starts at the beginning, and we only gather knowledge and experience by studying and researching our craft. This could be as simple as searching the internet for new tools, terms, and techniques when you hear them mentioned or continuing your formal education by studying for a masters in software engineering online.
Practice as much as you can
The best software engineers are the people who write code every day. Even when you are busy, finding a few minutes each day to write code will help you stay up to date with new languages and keep your skills sharp. Changing the coding language or type of projects you are working on will help you broaden your skills and keep the job interesting. It can be difficult to find time to practice, so consider setting yourself a weekly schedule and a list of skills that you want to master in certain timeframe. When you have mastered those skills, you can push yourself further, and gradually you will deepen your knowledge.
Know that mistakes can be good
Making mistakes can be disheartening, but nobody learns how to be a software engineer without getting it wrong from time to time. Mistakes are an opportunity to learn, so if someone finds an error or something that could be improved in your work, remember to thank them. You might disagree about the issue, but this is a chance to discuss your opinions professionally, and you could both learn something. There are often multiple solutions to a problem, which is what makes software engineering so interesting. There is not one software engineer who knows everything about programming or software development, which is why engineers are always willing to collaborate and learn from each other. Being open to learning will benefit you in the long run.
Take on extra projects
In your day job, you will probably be focusing on one type of project or coding language, but to keep things fresh and widen your knowledge, take on projects outside of work. This will also give you the chance to test what you have learned at work in different projects and with new objectives. This will help you to learn at a faster rate and may make you more valuable to your employer when new projects come up.
It is important to stay up to date with what is happening in the wider software development industry. Just because new technology is released, it does not necessarily mean that it is better than others or that it will suit a particular project. Staying on top of the latest news and developments by following industry influencers on social media, subscribing to email newsletters, and reading blogs will ensure you are always aware of the wider landscape.
Pass on your knowledge
More experienced colleagues and mentors will have a wealth of valuable knowledge to share with you and others, but you can also become a valuable team member by providing help to others. Because the software development industry moves so fast, even people who have been in the industry for many years can become left behind. This is why it is important to be ready to help others when you can and pass on resources you feel might be useful to others. Teaching others can help you deepen your understanding as you will be answering questions and thinking about topics from different angles, but it can also be very rewarding.
Ask for help when you need it
One of the most important skills that a software engineer can master is to know how and when to ask for help. You should never be embarrassed if you come across something you do not know, as everyone has been there, and they are the ideal opportunity to develop and improve. In fact, asking one of your colleagues or contacts for help will show them that you value their input and recognize their expertise which will only strengthen the relationship and ensure that the project achieves the best possible outcome.