It may be just my Whovian mind, but I see the career of a software developer somewhat being like a Time Lord. You travel through space and time, meet a ton of cool people who you build software for and with, but most importantly you learn, you learn always. Unless you are in a job where you are stuck developing ancient software (very few of those left), odds are the technologies you work with change. A lot. And you have to keep learning them to stay cool and current. How?
Read a ton of books!
I did not realize how much reading I would have to do when I was graduating with my CS degrees. But my first year at my full-time job, I read around 15 computing related books – a lot more than I read during a school year. There is just so much cool stuff to learn out there!
Attend Code Camps!
Depends on where you live, your city may have a code camp. A code camp is a developer conference with speakers from the industry sharing their knowledge about cool new technologies. Boise, Idaho, the place where I am currently residing, has a fantastic free code camp. Through code camps, I have learned how to make mobile apps in Android and iOS, as well as data visualization.
I talked to a developer in the San Francisco Bay Area once and asked him if he attended meetups. He said he did not have time for them, which made me very sad. Didn’t he want to tap into the knowledge of those who have been there before, look into the void of unknown, experience the adventure of learning? As a developer, you learn a lot from other people in the industry, because they travel to worlds and times different from yours, they work on completely different and exciting technologies, and you love learning about those, right? This is why the Time Lord developer meetups exist – to meet others in the area and learn from each other. And if you do not find the people you want to hang out with, start your own meetup!
Apply what you learn!
Odds are if you are learning something cool, you want to use it in your school work or your full-time job. The books I read my first year out of school taught me how to refactor really complex code and enable automatic testing of it (I will share those books in one of the future posts). It was something I needed to know to make my life (and other developers’ lives) easier, so I started on the quest of learning. You can always pick up a book just because it sound exciting to you – I still want to read a three.js book about doing 3D graphics in the web – but it is a lot merrier to apply that learning to something!
Teach what you learn!
Okay, the application of what you have learned does not have to be directly to you work. Of course. I love telling people about cool stuff I learned, and I teach women how to program at Girl Develop It. A lot of the technologies I teach, like python programming language, I simply do not use at my day-to-day work, but it is still fun. Share whatever you learn with the world, and pass the knowledge torch.
All in all, learning is very important in career of a software developer. If you love to continuously learn new things, this career will be perfect for you, and will make you happy! For the rest of the week go learn something awesome and be CodeBrave! Allons-y!