So you’re a young software developer, and you’ve just landed a great job. You love the company culture, and it’s got all the perks you would want (and maybe then some). But where do you go from here?
The most obvious answer would be “do your job,” and that’s certainly not a bad one. But for young developers, it’s good to always keep the long-term view in mind. You might be happy where you are right now, but the tech industry (and software development in particular) is fast-paced and constantly changing. There are a few skills all software developers — both those recently hired to their first job and industry veterans with decades under their belt — can do to stay at the top of their game.
Operation: Distributed source control systems
Distributed source control systems might not sound exciting – and they definitely aren’t new – but they are becoming more and more important to software development. These systems are a great way to get exposed to a wide array of projects in development, and failing to become acquainted with them can limit a career in software development. It can be easy to become complacent and disconnected from current trends, especially in a closed development house. Bitbucket, GitHub, Google Code, SourceForge and other similar services are handy tools and are a great way to build a collection of personal projects. Even more, potential employers may even ask to see if you have a profile with these systems. An active profile signals initiative and drive for these employers.
Commune with open source
Working with open source code is really only one part of being a part of the open source community. There are tons of projects to work on, and you can build your GitHub or StackOverflow profile with project after project to keep your skills up. However, if you only focus on the code and not the collection of other people also working on open source projects, you’re missing out on a lot of what open source has to offer. Being part of the open source community means socializing with other developers. Honing skills and collecting projects is all well and good, but the ultimate goal of being a part of open source is to influence and participate in the evolution of software development. The open source community can keep you abreast of the newest changes and trends.
Be a master of time (zones)
Technology is making it easier and easier to work remotely and collaborate with people across the globe. That software developers need to be at the forefront of this new way of collaborating may seem obvious, but it’s also one of those things that’s easier said than done. It’s not just about coordinating schedules across disparate time zones. It’s about being able to work with people of a variety of backgrounds and experiences, about coordinating across language barriers, and of being able to organize and divide work when there’s no one to motivate and watch over you.
Landing that first job is an exciting step in your career, but you probably have goals above and beyond that. Only you will know what skills you’ll need to reach your specific goals, but regardless of where you want to go with software development, these are skills software developers, newly-minted or veteran, all need.