Over the past couple of years, I have had the opportunity to mentor new members of the team and give career advice to new graduates from various fields. In doing so, I thought about my own experience and journey in my career as a software engineer and came up with my top 5 tips and pieces of advice on how to become better at what you do, be it within your career or other areas in life.
1. Enjoy what you do
I really enjoy my role as a software engineer. I love the challenge of solving problems with code and I enjoy converting designs into interactive user interfaces that are used by people in whichever way they are intended to be.
Enjoying what you do is the first piece of advice. Enjoying your role is what will motivate you to become better, develop further and progress. If you don’t enjoy what you do, it slowly becomes a chore or a burden which in turn can start to demotivate you and make you feel unfulfilled and unsatisfied. That feeling will then make it difficult to become better and progress, so it is very important to enjoy what you do.
2. Keep learning and stay up-to-date
I enjoy learning new things and staying up-to-date with the latest trends and potential future developments in software engineering. I have signed up for a newsletter that sends me a collection of interesting articles on software engineering and I follow certain software engineering and frontend development Twitter handles. All these enable me to keep learning and stay up-to-date in my field of work.
We live in a fast-paced world where everything is progressing and developing quickly, especially technology. As a result, we are required to keep learning and develop our skills in order to stay up-to-date with the latest developments.
My second piece of advice is to never stop learning in order to remain on top of the latest developments within the field you work in. Read blogs and articles, sign up for one or two newsletters that send useful information in your field of work and latest and potential future trends. Things like this will ensure you are keeping up to date and are continuously learning, developing, and ultimately becoming better at what you do.
3. Be open-minded
I was in a meeting where the discussion was on using a new automation testing framework. I started getting nervous. The thought of having to change and learn a new framework scared me. Why are we changing? What’s wrong with our current framework? I said to myself. A few weeks later, after using the new framework, I was glad we had made the change and that I had the opportunity to be part of it. I learned so much and it was no way near as scary or nerve-racking as I had initially thought.
Not many people like change, we can get used to working in a particular way or with particular tools and skillsets. However, in order to develop and become better at what you do, it is important to be open-minded, be willing to adapt to change and learn new skills and ways of doing what you do.
I was one of those people that once settled in a particular way, I did not like the prospect of changing or having to learn new ways, new tools, or skills. However, as I became more experienced, I started to understand and accept that in order for me to become better and progress, I had to be more open-minded, I had to be willing to adapt to change and learn new tools and skills in order to become better at what I do and progress.
Therefore, my third piece of advice is to be open-minded, don’t be afraid of change and always be willing to learn new skills, tools and ways of fulfilling your role.
4. Practise, practise, practise
I am a firm believer in learning by doing. The more you do and the more you practice, the better you will become at it. There are only so many training courses and only so much that you can learn from others. A great way of learning and building your skills and experience is to practice and do more of what you are trying to become better at. By this, I mean outside of work where you are paid and have an obligation to do the work.
One of the ways I do this is by taking on voluntary projects and developing my own practice projects. Voluntary and personal practice projects allow me to experiment and try new things without the pressure of getting it right or to meet any deadlines.
So my fourth piece of advice is to take on voluntary and/or your own practice projects where you can experiment and try new things and learn from them and as a result, become better and develop your experience in what you do.
5. Share your knowledge
As I become more experienced, I started to get opportunities to mentor and share my knowledge and experience with the younger generation and new members of the team. This really helped me further my knowledge and understanding of software engineering and my field of work. Not only that, but I started to contribute by writing and publishing blog posts on various topics and findings.
So my fifth piece of advice is to share your knowledge, experience and skills with others. You could do this by mentoring others who are new to the field or are looking to get into the field such as the younger generation, graduates and juniors. You could also publish blogs and/or give presentations sharing your experience and things you have learned.
So there you have it, my top five tips and advice to become better and what you do. Feel free to share your views and tips in the comments section below.
Mitesh Sevani is a Senior Software Engineer at The Telegraph.