How to Keep Your Skills Updated As a Software Developer?
Do you need to learn everything in this fast-moving tech industry where every day new libraries, frameworks, some programming language, and technologies are appearing constantly?
That’s impossible and of course, you should not focus on learning everything that comes along with. But the software development field demands to stay updated with new trends if you want to stay relevant in the job market if you want to be more productive in your work, if you want to make progress in your career and if you enjoy being forever a student. But learning in the IT industry has no end and developers quite often feel overwhelmed with so many resources available online.
In the tech industry every day, there are so many releases of programming languages, frameworks, design patterns, some sort of algorithms, coding strategies, or hacks. Each one of them has different uses cases, pros, and cons and each one of them is suitable for solving a specific problem. Now the question is…..how to consume all this information and how to adopt the best strategy to keep yourself updated all the time? In this blog, we will talk about this in detail, and we will discuss some strategies/tips to keep your skills updated all the time.
You Should Have a Plan!
You should have your strategy or plan to learn anything in the tech industry and to advance your career. Let’s relate this with one common example in our real life. Consider a scenario that you’re overweight and you need to lose weight. How would you do that? Most of the people are going to say “I need to cut back on my calories and exercise more“. If this one is also your answer then it’ s not a plan to lose weight. If it is then it won’t work in your long term fitness goal. You need to have a real plan which you can follow and track.
Instead of the answer given above, you should have a plan where you are not going to lose weight but you’re going to work on losing fat maintaining lean body mass. You can do this by cutting your calories with a 500 calorie deficit per day, following a ketogenic diet, running four times a week to increase fat oxidation, and lifting three times a week to build your muscle mass as much as possible. That’s what a real plan looks like. In software development, this kind of real plan works where you should have your strategy to keep yourself updated with new trends. Let’s discuss some tips and ideas to incorporate these plans and improve your knowledge in the tech industry.
1. Read Blogs and Newsletters
A developer should adopt the habit to read some blogs in the morning for at least 30-40 minutes to check what’s happening in the programming world. Just like some people have the habit of reading the newspaper, a developer must have the habit of reading programming blogs and the news of the latest technologies and hacks. There are so many popular websites where a developer can get regular updates about the latest news and trends going on in the software industry. These websites declare the launch of new languages, frameworks, libraries, or updated versions of the software. They can also subscribe to the newsletters to get the information straight forward into the mailbox.
Reading blogs not only helps you to gain insight into what is new and important in the world of programming but also helps in finding the solution for the problems related to your work, programming languages, tools, and technologies. GeeksforGeeks, Reddit, Hacker News, Medium, freeCodeCamp are some popular websites that can be helpful for developers to stay updated with real-world evolution.
2. Read Books
In programming, certain concepts can better be absorbed by reading technical books. If you’re working with a specific language or technology and spending most of the time using it than, you should pick up the books related to that. Books are an excellent source to explore a technical topic in depth. It helps in mastering a specific technology and solving the difficult problems in your day-to-day job. We are not saying that you should only read the books related to your work. The main idea is to keep at least one technical book all the time along with yourself and go through with that for at least half an hour a day during the break time of your work or while walking on the treadmill in your gym.
You broaden the base of your programming knowledge if you keep the habit of reading and working through new technical books all the time. One of the biggest perks of reading the book is that you don’t get distracted with so many ads, links, pop-ups, and notifications while you’re reading them. Some evergreen books you should read in your entire career in software development are listed in the link Top 10 Books That Every Programmer Must Read Once. Check out this link, make the habit of reading technical books, and explore the field of programming and software development on a much deeper level.
3. Take Online Courses and Pick New Things to Learn
No matter how educated or how skilled developers are there is always something new to learn in the world of programming. As a developer be always curious to learn something new and have a plan for the next thing you need to learn. You can take online courses or you can watch some online video tutorials. All you just need to do is to evaluate your current skill and decide where you want to go. This will help you to decide what things you need to learn and which online course/training is best to learn the new topic. Online courses not only help in keeping your skills up to date but also save a lot of time and money.
Every software developer needs to devote some dedicated amount of time to take some video lectures that are beneficial for their careers. Some courses are paid, some are available free of cost, some also provide certification which can be added to your CV. If you do that constantly daily, you will be amazed to see your knowledge and skills within just a couple of months. Make sure that whatever you pick up to learn, you should have a real purpose in your mind. You don’t need to learn some topics or technology that you are never going to use in the future. You can use GeeksforGeeks courses.
4. Attend Events/Conferences/Meetups
Most of the time software developers job involves sitting for a long time and working on multiple projects. Due to this schedule, they are often considered as an anti-social person or less interactive. But being in the limited scale of the network doesn’t always help in making progress in the career. Networking with like-minded people at a different event, conferences or meetup is as important as the practical implementation of the project at the workplace. These events help developers to think broadly in the environment of the technical community.
If you look at the people working in sales and marketing, you will observe their confidence, strong network, and a different attitude towards networking. As a developer, you should also have a strong network with like-minded people. To build this network you must be open to attending events, conferences, or meetups. You can attend any local events or some less formal meetups happening in your city and gain a wonderful understanding of a specific technology or trend.
One of the biggest perks of attending these events is that you can ask questions face to face and you build a network with industry players. Things become much more influencing and grasping when you see some highly technical expertise as a speaker live in front of you demonstrating some technical topics/innovation, sharing their experiences, suggesting the audience why they should use this specific technology, why programmers should write their code in a specific way, or why they migrated from one technology to another technology. So check out the Meetups or organizations in your area, become an active member of the IT community and attend their events.
5. Code a Lot and Work on Side Projects
The more you code, the better you become in software development. In programming, this is one of the best ways to keep your programming skills up to date. It doesn’t make any sense if you only spend your time in grasping the content without doing any practical implementation. No matter how many books or blogs you have read, no matter how many tutorials or courses you watch online, if you don’t apply your knowledge practically in some real-world projects, you won’t be able to learn the things in a better way. As a developer, you should always dedicate some amount of time every day working on some side projects.
Once you learn about some new technology, frameworks, design pattern, or coding strategy, try it on your own. You will have strong touch with the specific technology and you will have an idea that how things work in real-world projects. If you make a habit of writing code every day and working on side projects, you will have strong knowledge and long-lasting relationship with the programming language or library that you just learned.
As a software developer, it’s good to keep yourself updated all the time but don’t get too obsessed with the new things. You will be burnout and it can harm your day-to-day life. In this blog, we have discussed plenty of ways and resources to stay up to date in the world of programming. All you just need to do is to make a proper plan/ strategy and work on them one by one. Devote some dedicated amount of time every day in each one of them and track your progress after weeks, months, and years. You will be surprised to see your learning curve, your progress and growth in your career after spending a couple of months in these resources. Follow the above tips in your day-to-day life to achieve growth and to stay relevant as a programmer.