I’ve worn many hats in my years as a consultant. As I honed my technical and professional skills, I have taken on incrementally more challenging roles such as developer, senior developer, tech lead, and now architect.
Along the way I’ve picked up some tips and tricks to help further my professional development. If you’re looking for a similar career path, I’ve prepared some tips that I wish someone had told me before I entered the world of consulting.
Live code reviews
I found that conducting tech reviews in real-time (as opposed to offline or after hours) was the best way to learn. Being able to ask and answer questions with the code in front of you and your tech lead helps direct focus and keep feedback meaningful. Verbalizing your thought process is also helpful for your lead to identify areas where a change in perspective might help point you in the right direction.
How does one become a better reader? Read more! Similarly, reviewing my team members’ code helps keep a fresh perspective. When the only code you look at is your own it’s easy to ‘put on your blinders’ and fall into stale patterns. Help keep your mind fresh and sharp by having a team member show you their latest work. Look at what others are doing and see how it may apply to your own work.
Find a mentor
Find someone who is in the role you aspire to be in and meet with them often to pick their brain and talk about their experiences. By scheduling periodic check-ins with a mentor it’s easy to keep your career on track and make sure you’re focusing on the right things to achieve your goals.
As a junior developer I often read through feature requests coming down the pipeline to my team and imagined how I might design the solution as an architect. I came up with my own ideas and compared them to the solutions defined by the architect or tech lead. Where my solution diverged, I would concentrate on the decisions that led me to a different conclusion. Analyzing those decisions helped illuminate areas where I could learn more and think more like an architect.
Track and review feedback
Keeping a log of your feedback helps keep perspective on what you’re doing well and where you can improve. Consistent review of your feedback can help you hone in on specific areas to grow. Contextualize your growth by picking specific items of feedback that need attention and align those goals with your work.
Let your leads know that feedback is important to you. Keep an open dialogue and keep looking for areas of improvement. Not everyone is used to providing feedback, and if you let your leads know that you are receptive then they will be all the more comfortable helping you grow.
Don’t just start coding
As a junior developer I was so excited to just go. I often just read through the requirements and got busy coding. Taking time before putting fingers on a keyboard to think through and visualize your approach helps avoid unnecessary roadblocks and rework. Organize your thoughts and break out the specific tasks that need completed.
Don’t try to be perfect
Perfect is the enemy of good. Oftentimes as a junior developer I would get caught in the trap of trying to make my work bullet proof, bug proof, fireproof, waterproof…all the ‘proofs’. Do the job that needs done, do it well, and move on.
Don’t gold plate
Stick to the script! The requirements are there for a reason. Don’t get caught up in the magic of programming by building something unnecessary. There’s a point where continuing to work on something has diminishing returns. Learn to recognize that point. If You Aren’t Gonna Need It (YAGNI!), don’t spend the time building it.
At Atrium, we’re invested in designing and delivering data-driven solutions that take advantage of today’s cutting-edge technologies. Check out our careers page to see if any of our open positions interest you. If you’d like to join our team, get in touch!