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Five lessons learnt from five years as a Software Developer

Female software developers discuss coding issue

ARTICLE SUMMARY

Having left university with a first-class honours in mathematics and computing BSc, Beth Carter started her career in tech as a graduate systems engineer.

She now is a Lead Developer at Markerstudy Insurance Services Ltd., specialising in C# .NET Core applications with Microsoft Azure and Google Cloud Platform. She loves sharing her knowledge with her team by providing guided workshops and strives to write clean code that follows best practices to deliver real business value.

Beth Carter, Lead Developer at Markerstudy Insurance Services Ltd

Beth recently took part in the #IAmRemarkable initiative arranged by Google to empower everyone, including underrepresented groups, to celebrate their achievements in the workplace. Following this, Beth now regularly participates in follow up group sessions with her Markerstudy colleagues to ensure the learnings are put into practice. In her spare time, she loves being creative with nail art and drawing.

Here, Beth gives us some of her advice for budding software developers looking to get into the industry.

EMBRACE THE LATEST TECHNOLOGY

Software Development is a rapidly evolving and changing industry, so you need to constantly improve to have in-demand skills.  This adds pressure to try and stay up-to-date with the latest trends, development frameworks, programming languages and tools. Just when you think you have mastered an area of Software Development, something new and better comes along which means you are always adapting and learning.

It is important to ensure the company you decide to work for is keeping up with the latest technology. Knowing legacy programming frameworks is beneficial, but to progress in your career you need to be at the forefront. Investigate if they have the budget to provide you access to training courses and are actively eliminating their technical debt to build reliable, performant and scalable systems.

Sign yourself up for newsletters or follow popular technology accounts on LinkedIn or Instagram.  Having the ability to grab current tech news each day can help create a talking point for you and your colleagues!

TECHNICAL SKILLS ARE NOT ENOUGH

Software Development is a high-tech field and traditionally it demands a university degree or certification. However, programming is now taught widely in the National Curriculum, with children as young as five gaining experience. 

Being a Software Developer is much more than just the technical skills, though, it is also important to possess great ‘soft skills’. 

To succeed, it is required to have strong communication and collaboration skills, to effectively express complex concepts to both technical and non-technical people. Working together in a team requires great interpersonal skills so that everyone functions efficiently to achieve a common goal. Problem-solving goes beyond your usual programming knowledge and involves you thinking creatively to overcome challenges, whilst meeting deadlines and expectations.

PREPARE TO BE PUSHED OUT OF YOUR COMFORT ZONE

Sometimes, we have to accept and deal with the fact that we might not always enjoy tasks in our working day. Being a Software Developer is no different and you’ll find you are not able to avoid a technology you dislike or have the ability to change designated projects. You will also discover that learning one programming language is not enough – learning different languages allows you to be more flexible and be in demand in the job market. Make sure you are not only picking up the easiest of tasks, the harder the problem the more it will push you to think differently and explore new technologies to solve them. Before you know it, you’ll have gone from building small features to taking ownership of large projects.

Remember, it is not essential to know everything.

Patience and practice in your job role are important and it takes time to build your skills.

You will discover that most development teams are nurturing environments, as everyone is still learning on the job, testing out new solutions and knowledge sharing with others.  You will produce your best work if you are surrounded by people who complement and inspire you to learn.

CREATE AWARENESS ABOUT YOUR CAREER PROGRESSION

Starting as a Junior Software Developer, the thought of advancing in your career can feel daunting.  Progression, of course, takes time and experience, but having a career plan can be very motivating. Ask your manager what your typical progression would be, then regularly revisit these goals with them, to ensure you are on the right path to succeeding. 

If promotional opportunities come up, don’t be humble, put yourself forward and remember to convey the reasons why you would be the best candidate.

The only thing standing between you and that promotion is your self-doubt.

Remember, you are not bragging if your experience is based on facts. I highly recommend attending an #IAmRemarkable workshop, which is a Google initiative empowering women and other underrepresented groups to celebrate their achievements in the workplace. The self-reflection time in the workshops encouraged me to reflect on my career and to understand the importance of self-promotion with an emphasis on how to communicate my achievements positively.    

BRING YOUR AUTHENTIC SELF TO WORK

“But you don’t look like a Software Developer?” Do not hold onto stereotypes of what a Software Developer should look like or the types of people companies will only employ. Being a female in the tech industry is going to be your strength and you should embrace your differentiating factors as these will help you become a better creative problem-solver.

If you don’t feel like you fit in with your colleagues, you can always seek communities outside your day job.

The Women in Tech community brings a sense of fulfilment that you might not find solely in programming. These external communities help to unlock a network united by shared interests and could help you accelerate your career.

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