Simon Harriyott

Evergreen skills for developers

I've been chatting to Leon about his upcoming book, Evergreen Skills For Software Developers. These are skills that are useful throughout a career, rather than a particular technology. Being a developer for over 20 years, I have thoughts on how to develop them.

  1. Learn about frameworks' underlying technology. Learn vanilla JavaScript, not just React or Angular. Learn SQL, not just ORM.
  2. Notice what you're enjoying learning, and what seems like a chore. Have fun with the enjoyable stuff, even if you can't yet see how it's useful.
  3. Understand the dark side. If you're a front-end developer, learn the back-end too, and versa vice.
  4. Have a go at some Project Euler questions
  5. Don't worry about (or game) your StackOverflow score. That ship has sailed. Don't look like a moron on there though.
  6. Learn to touch-type. You'll slow down for six months, but you'll then be faster for the rest of your career, and you can type without looking at your fingers.
  7. If you're trying to learn a new technology, start making something that'll help you in some way; maybe something to do with a non-coding hobby. Then there'll be an incentive to push through the hard bit and learn how to get something to work.
  8. Notice if you regularly over- or under-estimate how long work will take. Find out why you do, and work on improving. Notice what happens when your estimate is off, e.g. unpaid overtime or missing out on freelance gigs for high pricing.
  9. Find a mentor. Find someone to mentor.
  10. The beginning of wisdom is knowing that you know nothing. Don't be proud, arrogant, dogmatic or inflexible.
  11. Go to meet-ups, community days, evening seminars etc. and talk to new people.
  12. Keep your social media nice. Don't be having rude, pedantic arguments with people, especially experts.
  13. Practise being helpful and nice to colleagues. It'll help with promotions, not being at the top of the next redundancies list, getting new jobs at companies where ex-colleagues have ended up. Spend the occasional lunchtime helping a struggling colleague.
  14. Understand imposter syndrome and the Dunning-Kruger effect.
  15. Don't gossip. Don't bully anyone. Support people who are being bullied.
  16. Don't flirt with your colleagues. Definitely don't do anything that could be even slightly misconstrued as sexual harassment. Don't comment on people's bodies or underwear. If you must compliment someone, compliment their work. Don't drink/dope excessively at work or industry socials.
  17. Understand how diversity and discrimination work in the industry. Notice it in action. Work out how you can be part of the solution.
  18. Don't be afraid to leave a toxic workplace.
  19. If you're having the Sunday evening dreads, listen to them carefully, and act accordingly. Fix the source of the dread, or change your working environment or job.
  20. You might not always want to be a coder. Think about what else you could be.

n.b. I'm still working at some of these. I may never make it. I also have a couple of other posts with some other ideas.

1 November 2018