5 Developer Insights to Upgrade Software Development Skills Inline with Changing Business Needs

Author Poster

Jaydip Aawte

10 June 2024
blogPoster

Both the Business and technology landscape today are in a state of constant flux. Business needs are prompting the search for more effective technologies, and increasingly capable technologies are disrupting the business markets almost every other day. ChatGPT is the latest in a long series of such developments, and it has already disrupted the industry. So how do we, as developers, cope?

One of my favorite Hollywood scenes best describes the plight of programmers in today’s technology landscape. Remember Tony Stark building the Mark I armor in a cave to escape his kidnappers in Iron Man I? He does the best he can with the limited time and resources on his hands.

As programmers, we are faced with similar, almost as glamorous, pressing issues. We use technologies like web applications, front-end libraries, back-end server frameworks, databases, ORMs, and more to build the armor businesses need to survive in an increasingly ruthless world. And like Iron Man, we have to do it within the limited time and resources we get.

So here are 5 smart insights that help the developer in me learn constantly and adapt to software development competition in the ‘Age of AI.’ Let’s suit up. Shall we?

Table of Contents

Depend on a Role Model

Isaac Newton was once asked, “How did you achieve so much in your life?”. His reply – “I have seen further by standing on the shoulders of Giants!”

It’s not always necessary to start from ground zero. Let’s say you’ve got a technology to learn in little time. Begin by searching for the giants in that technology. Look for pioneers and experts, follow their social channels, read the in-depth articles published by them, and pick up on their insights.

This step helps me prioritize my learning goals. Seniors tell you what matters the most and which features are most demanded in real-world scenarios. So you can save tons of your time and avoid the common mistakes newbies commit.

Listening to the true experts also prevents you from being overwhelmed by all the information noise out there. So pick an expert, pick up on their insights, and put your technology concerns to rest.

Get Your Hands Dirty

Scientific studies have found that learning by experience helps students retain the learnings longer [1]. This is especially true in the case of programming, where learning involves handling concerns like system compatibility, typo errors, exceptions, unexpected bugs, and more.

No matter how much reading you do, building perfect (near-perfect) software comes with practice. Sure, there will be a few failed iterations and system crashes, but the whole process lets you get as comfortable with your craft as Leonardo Davinci was with painting.

So the next time you need to learn a new technology, grab some coffee, tune in to your favorite playlist, and settle down for some serious hands-on programming.

Find a Personal TaskMaster

Have you ever endeavored to master something in a week by committing to a crash course that demanded 8-10 hours every day? I wonder how that went down.

We’d all like to be masters of focus like Yoda, but real life is full of unexpected hurdles and interruptions. The end result is that people commit like crazy and procrastinate like a star.

If you’re guilty of the same crime, I recommend finding a taskmaster who can hold you accountable. The more uncomfortable you are with this person, the better. This ensures you don’t skip your learning goals with some measly excuse. Your taskmaster friend can hold you accountable and force you to commit when you’re lagging behind the deadline.

Pro tip: Break your learning sessions down and use the breaks to reflect on the topics you just learned. You could uncover some amazing perspectives and discover concepts in a completely new light.

Learn the Art of Questioning

A significant part of learning is the art of asking the right questions. Apart from the explicit questions one asks while pouring through the study material or breezing through the MOOC classes, it is important to identify the ample opportunities in your day-to-day job for asking questions. By asking the right questions at the right time, one can gain valuable insights that speed up the learning process.


In your day-to-day job, ask questions that will help you take the right action

  • What problems does this technology address? (learn the key features)
  • What concepts will be the most useful to me in the real world? (seek insights from experienced engineers)
  • Are my foundational concepts getting strong? (try online assessments)
  • Is the quality of my code improving? (Audit your code through reviews)

Remember, the journey is more important than the destination. So enrich and enjoy the learning process. Keep asking, “How can I do better than yesterday?”

Beware the Dunning-Kruger Effect

One of the potential pitfalls of learning is the illusion of knowing it all. Also known as the Dunning-Kruger effect[2], this phenomenon occurs when someone with limited knowledge greatly overestimates their expertise in comparison to the general objective standards.

While celebrating milestones is important, don’t get carried away by the Dunning-Kruger effect and overextend your celebrations. Whatever you celebrate, stop the celebration as the clock strikes midnight at 11:59:59.

Assess your learnings so far, explore, and engage with smarter people to know your real progress. Don’t be surprised if you learn that you know next to nothing. Keep learning, and remember that there will always be smarter resources than you.

So there you go, 5 smart developer insights as promised. It’s taken me a while to gain these insights, but I’ve benefited a great deal from them. I hope that they benefit you more.

References

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