Software developers are nothing short of magicians. With carefully curated characters, they can create a living, breathing digital machine out of nothing. They can navigate Kubernetes and Helm charts and functions and loops with just as much ease as someone else might drive a car. However, just as with any role, software developers are prone to common mistakes in their role. Understanding those mistakes early on can help prevent you from making them. With that in mind, here are five big mistakes that you should avoid in your development career.
Understand Risks Involved In Releasing New Code
Anytime you add a new feature to your code, you need to consider the overarching risks that could occur as a result. Unfortunately, too many developers make the mistake of releasing new code prematurely—or without understanding the effect that the introduction of new code could have on its environment. This lack of understanding is exactly what led developer Ken Mazaika to make a coding mistake that cost his company $10,000.
Because Mazaika didn’t fully understand the ruby and rails framework, he was hacking code together quickly and efficiently without a complete understanding of how that code could compromise the architecture of the existing code. Mistakes are inevitable but know that there’s a big difference between making a mistake and understanding the implications of potential mistakes.
Not Embracing Teachable Moments
If you’ve recently started a position, whether as a senior or junior developer, it’s important that you fully embrace teachable moments. If you’ve got a habit of saying “I know” when someone is attempting to teach you something, you could miss out on important lessons. Sometimes, you may not actually understand what someone is trying to explain to you, and are instead saying “I know” because you don’t want to feel ignorant or vulnerable.
Furthermore, you may not realize it, but declining to be taught can come across as a negative characteristic. It shows that you aren’t interested in listening to someone else and might have a “know-it-all” disposition. Do your best to remain humble and empathetic in your development role (two more important soft skills) and at least listen to what others have to say.
Lacking Soft Skills
Communication, creativity, leadership, and time management are a few soft skills that are important in any organization. Communication is one of the most important soft skills you can have—but not everyone is born with it, and it doesn’t hurt to do some reading or take an online class that teaches how to boost those all-important communication skills. Problem-solving is another vital soft skill for developers. Not only is this a key requirement for any technology job, but it comes into play in front of and away from the computer. A great developer knows not only how to problem solve code, but how to problem-solve creatively within your team, and this is one way that engineers become great business people.
Ignoring Continuing Education
It might seem smart to stick to your stacks and remain confined to the programming language you specialize in, but doing so could stunt your growth. The software industry is constantly evolving. As a software developer, you should do your best to evolve with it. Knowing one stack well might help you in your current career, but could pigeonhole you into certain roles and make it difficult to secure other more lucrative positions. Don’t make yourself an out-of-demand player.
There are countless continuing education opportunities for developers. Master new skills by taking online courses, webinars, joining meetups, attending conferences, and contributing to open-source projects. Not only will this help you hone current skills and develop new ones, but it can also open up new networking opportunities.
Staying In a Position Too Long—Or Leaving Too Early
There’s a fine balance to strike when it comes to your development career. For example, you shouldn’t stay with one company too long, but you also shouldn’t switch companies too often. The longer you stay in one company, the more likely your skills are to grow stagnant, and you may find yourself becoming complacent in your skillset. Complacency can quickly become the death of growth.
On the other hand, if you jump from job to job too often, it can be a red flag to employers. Onboarding new employees cost money, and if they spot a “start and leave” trend on your resume, there’s a good chance they won’t want to be another bullet point on your CV. Furthermore, on a development level, you might not get to see the entire lifecycle of a particular project, and you might be missing out on valuable lessons. According to Praveen Puri, a management consultant who started her own development firm, aim to stay with a company for between four and six years—if you can hack it.