We rely on software every day; from our computers and mobile devices to our cars, homes, and more, it is almost impossible to go a day without interacting with some type of software. This software has to be developed by someone and this is where software developers come in. Software development as a career is changing and growing every day. It is changing due to the increasingly complex ways in which we rely on and use the software as well as the expectations we have about the software we use. It is also growing due to our reliance on software and this is what is creating the high demand for software engineers that is being experienced right now. If you want to be a part of the future by becoming a software developer, here is a guide on how to do just that.
Map Out Your Goals
As with any career option, you need to know where you are going before you start thinking about how to get there. In software development, you need to know your goals, and by knowing these goals, it will be easier for you to overcome any hurdles you may come across in your journey. For most software engineers, their goal is to build a career and work as software developers. Some want to work for established software development companies, start their own companies, or work as team members in the development of specific types of software.
The goal you choose should be highly personal and customized to you and what you need for your future.
Earn a Degree
Once you have your career goals mapped out, it is time to earn a degree in computer science. Note that you can also become a software engineer by earning a degree in a related field and then enrolling in computer science masters program that has a software engineering option. The master’s degree will also help accelerate your upward mobility in your software development career and might even propel you to a leadership position as soon as you complete it.
Having a computer science degree will give you the skills and knowledge you need to design and develop software. Earning a computer science degree is so important because companies need you to understand complex concepts such as algorithms, data structures, and more before you are allowed to start developing software.
Select a Programming Language
It is within the nature of software development that you will write code for the majority of your career, although not in all instances or all positions. However, you should know a few programming languages and how programming works in general. There is no consensus on the one programming language you need to learn because they are all different, serve different purposes, and can be applied differently. Some of the more popular programming languages you should consider include C#, C++, Python, Ruby, and Java.
Learn How to Supplement Your Knowledge
Software development is always evolving. The learning resources that are available for software developers today will be outdated in a few months or a year at the most. Although the educational resources you use today will teach you the theoretical concepts you need to be successful as a software developer today, you need to evolve this knowledge.
Some ways to supplement your knowledge include knowing how to ask questions and how to get answers to these questions. Coding tests and gamification systems that help you learn new concepts are also invaluable in helping you keep up with the latest happenings in software development.
Read Other Developers’ Code
A lot of new software developers do not understand the value of reading code written by experienced programmers. Older, experienced programmers understand key concepts that you might not be aware of when starting. Additionally, their application of these concepts might teach you new ways of thinking and viewing problems.
There are numerous resources available for new software developers to read code written by more experienced software developers. These include GitHub repositories and documentation. Documentation is particularly important because, in addition to providing information about programming concepts, it shows you how to apply this information, which is critical to your understanding of how to develop software.
Join a Community of Software Engineers
Software development is challenging. Having a community of likeminded people can provide you with the support system you need to overcome the challenges you will encounter as a software developer. Such a community is also important in pointing you towards what you should learn to stay ahead of the competition and to be a better software developer.
Lastly, this community can be invaluable in helping you find new opportunities. Some members of these communities are in management and leadership positions, meaning they are privy to information about emerging job opportunities. By aligning yourself with these individuals, you are likely to know about new opportunities before the large public knows about them.
Even with a computer science degree and all the learning resources available to you, nothing beats practical experience. Building projects in your chosen programming languages allows you to better understand programming and its intricacies. Building projects also teaches you how to decide on project scope as well as how to find the help you need for the challenges you encounter.
Having a few projects in your portfolio is also a great way to impress potential employers who see you as a proactive software developer. Also, building projects and posting them where other software developers can see them can be a great way of building your professional network and connections.
Make Yourself a Great Hire
There are three things most companies looking for software developers look at; your resume, cover letter, and online submissions. When combined, the three of them can tell HR managers almost everything they need to know about you and what type of hire you will be. So, learn how to write a great cover letter, how to make your resume stand out, and how to use your online presence to impress HR managers who may not have met you yet.