The tech revolution is well and truly upon us. With some research estimating that most kids that started school last year will go on to work in jobs that don’t even exist yet, it’s vital that students about to enter the workforce evaluate their own skill sets. Coding is a skill that is both versatile and in high-demand across industries. Considering a career as a coder? Tech consultant Daniel Figucio tells us his top five tips for a successful coding career.
1. Put your personality and ideas out there
Blending in is overrated. In the workplace, individuality is a strength. There’s no one in the world with your unique experiences, background and perspective, so take every chance offered to you to share an idea or opinion. Sharing your thoughts can spark ideas with other team members. Don’t worry about your ideas not making the cut either – your team will appreciate original ideas and see you as a vital resource to bounce ideas off. The more you practice, the quicker you’ll learn how to posit your ideas in the future, increasing the chance of your ideas getting accepted.
2. Mistakes are important and inevitable
In everything we do, mistakes are always possible – in coding there’s always room for bugs! However, mistakes aren’t necessarily a bad thing. Mistakes can help us grow, learn and develop our skills to ensure we’re better prepared next time. The key is to not let mistakes knock you down, but help you build tenacity.
Modern workplaces have tools in place that allow you to experiment without damaging production code and environments. Take advantage of them whenever you possibly can. If something does not work, archive it and try something else.
The way we expand on our knowledge is by exposure to success and failures. Take these lessons and refine your skills by practicing. The more you’re able to produce and get feedback, the faster you’ll be able to turn a mistake into a valuable lesson.
3. Seek out organisations that will support you
It might seem obvious and feel natural to drift towards the larger technology and security companies when looking for roles in coding. However, bigger isn’t necessarily better.
More than ever, we’re seeing a shift in technology adoption in the workplace. Find a company that aligns with your morals and beliefs, and one that you would be proud working for. Don’t forget that your coding skills may take you to areas you might have a passion for but feel you may not have the talent or skills to work in directly – creative arts, social services and education are some such fields.
You might be surprised to learn that there are lots of potential roles that seek not only coding skills, but expertise in other areas (sales and education for example).
4. Recognise the importance of having a “Just Culture” and “Blameless Post-Mortems”
An important part of any successful workplace is having a “Just Culture” and “Blameless Post-Mortems”. This means your organisation balances safety and accountability of actions, while not be retributive when slip-ups occur. Even if it’s not official policy, we can all try to encourage that mentality in our dealings with each other, no matter where we work.
A “Blameless Post-Mortem” does not mean everyone gets let off for making mistakes either. It means investigating mistakes in a way that focuses on the situation around the mistake, and the decision-making process of individuals involved. It also involves putting actions in place to prevent those mistakes in the future – blameless post-mortems focus on learning from the mistake rather than punishing.
Organisations can come out safer and stronger than they might have if management had simply punished the individuals involved. Anyone who thinks they’re going to be reprimanded are less likely to give the details necessary to fully understand the mistake. Without those details, it all but guarantees the mistake will reoccur.
5. Learn to communicate and collaborate in the real world, not just on screen
In roles that are growing in popularity, such as DevOps and Agile Development, effective teamwork is becoming a priority for development organisations. Collaboration on platforms like GitHub propels team members to effectively work together toward a shared goal. This results in a product that provides the best possible experience for users, while creating a sense of community within the organisation.
Remember to take yourself away from your screen and head to industry events and hackathons. Whether you attend on a monthly or weekly basis isn’t important – but you should take the opportunity to meet like-minded people who may one day work alongside. It’s through these connections that you’ll be able to develop strong relationships and build priceless career networks.
BONUS TIP – Stay hungry, stay foolish
Throughout your career, you’ll likely be presented with endless opportunities to learn new skills and develop old ones. Embrace these opportunities and step out of your comfort zone. There’s always something new to learn, and each skill you pick up will aid you on your path to becoming an outstanding, well-rounded tech professional.
This article is part of a series of collaborative articles between Chattr and GitHub. Daniel Figucio is a director of solutions engineering for ASEAN and ANZ at GitHub. He has extensive experience in the IT industry, focusing on the accessibility of web-based applications and content.