If you’ve decided to embark on a professional journey as a coder or software programmer—congratulations! You’ve already covered the hard part. But as popular as this career is in today’s day and age, it’s also just as competitive and tough to succeed in.
It’s a common misconception that a professional qualification or a college degree is enough to make headway in the programming world. But like any expert in the field would tell you, it takes a lot more than knowledge to learn the tricks of the trade. Because while everyone wants to improve their skills and boost their career, not everyone has the right tools or experience to achieve it.
Fortunately, you can make an actionable plan and quickly set a pathway that guarantees the success and goal you’ve set for yourself.
With all the new graduates recognizing the growth in this industry, everyone wants to enter the job market. However, following the proper steps from the get-go can quickly place you ahead of everyone else and kickstart your career early on. To improve your chances of growing professionally, we outline the top 6 tips to help you excel as a coder.
- Create an impression
As cliché as it may sound, first impressions are often the last impressions. These are very valuable and count for a lot when you build a resume or go for a job interview. Even a casual conversation with a fellow professional can have a bigger impact than you realize.
Before you get hired for your first job, however, there’s a good chance you’ll have to wade through several interviews and recruitment processes first. While most employment procedures are typically the same, knowing how to prepare for a coding interview can especially come in handy when you want to impress your employers.
Even if you decide not to take the job, the impression you land on your interviewer can create a name for yourself in the market just when you’re entering the industry.
- Be open to learning new skills
Although a professional degree may initially allow you to be “eligible” for a job, it doesn’t count for much if you don’t have the skills to show for it. The world of programming and software engineering relies significantly on what you can do rather than what you know. More importantly, modern tools and technology quickly obsolete the previous editions in this rapidly advancing world. Therefore, to improve your chances, you must stay open to learning new skills and further building on the ones you already have.
If you don’t stay up-to-date with the goings on of the industry, pretty soon, there won’t be any space left for you in this career path.
Besides technical skills, employers today give special consideration to recruits who list soft skills in their resumes besides technical skills. Problem-solving, creativity, perseverance, and critical thinking are soft skills you can learn to outshine your peers.
- Collaborate with other coders
When you’re trying to make space for yourself in a relatively new area, experience is your best teacher. And in places where your own experience might not be as beneficial, you can count on others to help you out. Several coding professionals are often on the lookout to collaborate with beginners since they have more creative ideas and enthusiasm to work on a project. By working with those who’ve been in the industry a lot longer, you can benefit from one another.
Collaborations also increase opportunities to broaden your horizons and explore avenues that might be out of your comfort zone. While coding work is typically a one-person show, working in teams and exchanging ideas can build an entirely new experience. You can also work in partnership with global coders and secure jobs on international platforms to help accelerate your career growth by a wide margin.
- Create a personal project
Depending on your workload and the type of company you work for, the average number of coding projects you receive may vary. But while you must complete these to fulfill your job requirements, this isn’t all you should focus your efforts and energy on. Instead, try to allot a few hours aside from your time to create a personal project. Whether you use this for practice, try a few new tricks, or explore your creativity—make sure you have something.
A project with a vested interest often garners better appreciation and outcomes. Even when the coding gets too challenging, it’ll be harder to lose motivation because it’ll be something you genuinely care about. Additionally, future employers will recognize this passion in you when you talk about these projects and separate you from other job applicants.
- Get others to review your code
Having a mentor or someone you can rely on to review your code and provide critical feedback can significantly benefit your coding career. While it may be tough to hear your work’s not good enough and needs improvement, this response will push you to enhance your skills even more. It’s also possible that despite all your efforts and doing everything right, your code doesn’t operate or function the way it should. In such cases, having someone point out a mistake or share valuable solutions can help you quickly accomplish your goals.
Since code reviewers are often more experienced, they can also secure your project by improving the code quality and preventing bugs from infesting it. You can hire a freelancer or ask a colleague to provide feedback for you—whichever seems like the more feasible option.
- Work on your portfolio
For programmers, a coding portfolio is essential when applying for a job. While an impressive resume might get you the job interview, your portfolio will help employers see why they need to hire you.
Don’t worry if you’re new to the professional field and don’t have many projects to showcase. You can include class assignments or stuff you worked on while in a programming camp or any course you took when working on your degree. Any volunteer or freelance projects can also get listed in your portfolio. These speak volumes and show the recruiters that you’re the perfect candidate for their job.
Remember to keep updating your portfolio as you move on from one project to the next. Also, include ongoing ones or those you wish to work on moving forward.
Leaving behind your life as a student and entering the professional field can seem daunting and difficult to anyone. Additionally, starting a career from scratch and knowing every step you take will impact your future can make the process even more challenging. But following these tips can help kickstart your career as a coder in the best way possible. Just remember, preparing ahead and opening your mind to learning are the keys to success and the goals you wish to accomplish.