Top 3 Traits Needed to Become a Software Developer
What Sets Successful Software Developer Candidates Apart?
I was thinking the other day about candidates for software developer entry-level roles. There are a lot of different candidates, and each is unique in its own way. But what are the major differences between those who get hired and those who don’t? What sets the successful apart from the rest? I pondered this for a while, came up with a few things, and then put it on the back burner.. that is, until I taught class tonight and the discussion with my students sparked a catalyst that produced a very transparent image of exactly what someone needs to succeed as a software developer, and it boils down to three things: technical skills, the ability to solve problems, and passion.
The Foundation of a Software Developer
This one is a no-brainer. In order to be a software developer, one must learn how to use the technologies needed to develop software. I don’t really need to say anything more than that, however, my students know I am long-winded, so I’ll add a little more.
Learning Through Practice and Exploration
Having technical skills means learning how to use the constructs that a programming language offers by studying and practicing a lot. That means that you have to try stuff – you need to tinker around with code to see what works, what doesn’t, and how different things react in different use cases. Opening an IDE and just playing around with what you are learning and seeing what happens, and how you can break things, is the best way to really start to understand how programming works.
Core Tools for Success in Software Development
On top of learning how to program, you have to learn the core tools associated with working as a developer. Learn how to use Git, a popular IDE, the command line, and (I know it may sound silly and obvious, but…) your computer. Anyone can learn these things; it just takes practice and hard work. Spend the time necessary reading and breaking stuff, and then fixing it again, and you will gain the technical skills necessary to be a software developer.
Problem-Solving: The Key to Unlocking Success
The ability to solve problems is often perceived very close to technical skills and the ability to program. The truth, however, is that they are two distinct, separate concepts.
Understanding the Essence of Problem Solving
Problem-solving is, as the name states, the ability to solve problems; it is a method in which someone deconstructs complex puzzles into simple, bite-sized steps and then orchestrates a solution. Solving a problem has nothing to do with technical skills. However, technical skills come into play in implementing the solution yielded from solving a problem. This distinction is very important.
Building Problem-Solving Skills
One may know how to program and use all the tools in a software developer’s tool belt, but without being able to produce a solution to a problem that can be implemented with those tools, the tools might as well collect dust. To put this into perspective, a similar relationship exists in the simple math we are all familiar with from school. One may know how math works – they may know how to multiply and divide, and all that fun stuff – but when presented with a word problem that individual may be at a loss as to how to solve it. Knowing how to multiply is having technical skills, but knowing how to apply those skills to a word prompt is solving a problem.
Developing Effective Problem-Solving Techniques
Now that we know the difference, how does one build problem-solving skills? The trick is to not focus on the technical implementation at first. Don’t think about “how do I solve this problem with code?”. Think about how you would solve it yourself, as a human. If you were given a sentence and asked how many words are in
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